Tom Brady left Tampa Bay. He leaves behind a championship legacy – as well as a $35.1 million cap charge for 2023.
It’s not money the Bucs owe Brady. It’s money the Buccaneers have already paid, using the fixtures available to pitch the box in years to come.
As for Brady’s business, the chickens are now coming home to roost. And the Bucs are screwed.
Yes, they got what they wanted and needed from Brady. A Super Bowl championship. Two years of ass in the chairs maximum (the first season had no fans, due to the pandemic). Sale of sweaters and other merchandise.
But now, sitting $55 million over the cap, the Bucs need one last favor from Brady. They need him to sign a contract for 2023, for the minimum salary of $1.1165 million. And then they have to process his retirement after June 1st.
Such a contract would reduce Brady’s cap load to $11.941 million for 2023. A retirement after June 1 would result in $10.776 million in dead money for 2023, and it would push $24.328 million in dead money through 2024.
For Brady, it would prevent him from joining another team if he changed his mind about playing. Even though he may believe right now that he will never play again, he could change his mind.
Signing a new contract would make things much more difficult. For starters, he would be under contract with the Bucs until they place him on the reserve retired list in June. After that, he would remain on the retired reserve list until the Buccaneers release or trade his rights.
After the trade deadline, Brady is expected to go through waivers after being released from the reserve retiree list.
So it’s in Brady’s interest to become a free agent. This would give him the flexibility to do whatever he wants without complications or limitations. But it’s in the best interests of the team for Brady to join the Bucs, on paper.
If Brady performs contract service for the Bucs, it must happen before his current contract expires in mid-March. If he goes all the way, that will be the clearest indication that he really has no interest in joining another team.
That said, he could also re-sign to Tampa with an express understanding that if he decides to play again, the Bucs will immediately release his rights. But, again, this should happen before the trade deadline, to avoid going through waivers.
Yeah, Brady says he’s done for good. But human beings change their minds. Who knows how it will feel in July, August or September? He probably doesn’t even know.