Before Tom Brady can take the field in the NFC wild-card round against the Dallas Cowboys, his future with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is getting murkier.
It’s unclear what Brady is going to do once the 2022 season comes to an end. The possibility of him retiring after the season or moving onto a new team is still very much in play. And one team was thrown back into the Brady rumor mill on Thursday.
Enter the Miami Dolphins again.
The possibility of Brady joining the Dolphins for the 2023 season is “definitely on the table,” Pro Football Talk reported, citing a source with “general knowledge of the various dynamics regarding all things Brady.”
It’s unclear where Tua Tagovailoa would fit in the organization’s plans after another injury-riddled season.
The Dolphins were allegedly one of the teams interested in Brady before he signed with the Buccaneers before the 2020 season. But the potential of Brady joining the Dolphins was raised after the team lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
The plan reportedly involved Brady and head coach Sean Payton joining the organization but a racial discrimination lawsuit from former Dolphins coach Brian Flores threw the scheme into disarray.
Brady initially announced his decision to retire from the NFL on the morning of Feb. 1. Brady was set to be named a minority owner of the Dolphins the week before the Super Bowl, Pro Football Talk reported. Miami would have reportedly contacted the New Orleans Saints about gaining the contractual rights to Payton to bring him on as their head coach.
Miami making Brady a high-level team executive would have been the quarterback’s way out of Tampa Bay, the Boston Globe reported. The Dolphins could have reportedly approached the Bucs about a trade for his contractual rights to come back and play quarterback during the 2022 season.
Flores’ lawsuit threw a wrench into the plans, according to the Globe.
The Dolphins and team owner Stephen Ross were named in the former head coach’s racial discrimination lawsuit. In the suit, Flores said he was let go because he refused to “tank” to get a high draft pick. He also claimed Ross told him that he would be compensated for each Dolphins loss and general manager Chris Grier said Ross was “mad” over the team’s wins.
Additionally, the lawsuit claimed Ross pressured Flores to recruit a “prominent quarterback” for the 2020 season and that he was about to enter a meeting with such quarterback before bowing out at the last minute. Flores claimed since then that the relationship with the organization went downhill.
Flores was fired by the Dolphins after the 2021 season.
Brady would eventually decide to come back and play for the Buccaneers after all.
Boston Globe reporter Ben Volin, who reported on the scheme, noted on “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” podcast that Brady never actually used the word “retire” in his initial statement about stepping away from the Buccaneers. Brady also initially only mentioned Tampa Bay in his statement and was late to thank the New England Patriots.
He announced his decision to come back to the Buccaneers on March 13, a day after he watched Manchester United play across the pond. Manchester United and the Buccaneers are owned by the Glazer Family.
Brady didn’t exactly deny the flirtation in the offseason.
“I had a lot of conversations with a lot of people, as I’ve had for the last three or four years in my career about different opportunities when I’m done playing football,” Brady said. “I kind of made a decision of what I’d like to do. I’ll get to be in the game of football.
“I think for me, the most important thing is where I’m at now. And what I hope to do for this team. That’s been my commitment to this team and organization and it’s been so much fun to come here two years ago. It’s been almost two-and-half years now and it’s been an incredible part of my football journey.
“And it’s not over and we have a lot to accomplish. I have a long life ahead and there’s a lot of fun things to do ahead. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead in football. But at the same time none of us are promised much beyond what we have now and this is the current moment and I’m really excited about going out there and try to compete and win a championship.”
In August, the NFL suspended Dolphins team owner Stephen Ross and the team was docked two draft picks over improper conversations with Brady and Payton. The NFL issued a memo finalizing its findings following a six-month probe led by former U.S. Attorney and SEC Chair Mary Jo White into allegations that the Dolphins violated the league’s anti-tampering policy following “impermissible communications” with Brady and Payton via his agent between August 2019 and January 2022.
According to the memo, Dolphins vice chairman and limited partner Bruce Beal engaged in conversations with Brady while he was under contract with the Patriots, beginning in August 2019, and again in 2021 when he was under contract with the Buccaneers.
Ross was kept “informed” of those conversations, which included Brady “becoming a limited partner in the Dolphins and possibly serving as a football executive, although at times they also included the possibility of his playing for the Dolphins,” the NFL revealed.
Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.