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With Bucs planning to take full $35.1 million cap charge in 2023, Tom Brady remains on track to become a free agent

Mike Florio and Chris Simms attempt to predict how many more Super Bowls Patrick Mahomes will win with the Chiefs and detail why Tom Brady might already need to be looking over his shoulder, especially after retiring.

When Tom Brady announced his second annual retirement, the next question became whether he would sign a dummy contract with the Buccaneers, allowing his $35.1 million cap charge for 2023 to be divided over two years, with roughly $11 million hitting this year and $24 million in 2024.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network suggested that the Buccaneers will take the full $35.1 million cap charge in 2023. Which means that there definitely will be no dummy contract.

Which means that Brady will become a free agent on March 15.

But what about the retirement letter that his agent leaked to ESPN last Friday? As explained here, it’s irrelevant. He’s not, and he won’t be, on Tampa Bay’s reserve/retired list. He can sign with any team at any time, once his deal officially expires.

As it relates to the Buccaneers, the real question is whether they wanted to do a dummy deal that would have chopped down the cap charge, or whether they deliberately intended to have $24 million less in 2023 for the purposes of paying players. If it’s the former, we can infer that Brady declined to play along. If it’s the latter, Buccaneers fans should be upset that the team isn’t doing all it can to be competitive in 2023.

Then again, does anyone really expect the Bucs to be competitive in 2023? They were barely competitive in 2022. The coming season likely will be a soft tank, with a new coach, possibly a new G.M., and plenty of new players when 2024 comes around.

Regardless, like the 2021 Rams, the Bucs got a Super Bowl trophy in 2020. Unlike the 2019 and 2022 Chiefs, the Buccaneers definitely were not built to last.

Surely, they knew that when they signed a 42-year-old starting quarterback nearly three years ago -- and when they loaded his pockets with money that would clobber the cap once he finally left.