The Domino Effect – How Tom Brady’s Retirement Affects The NFL QB Situation

By Ian John
February 6, 2023

A quick look at the odds for the 2023/24 NFL Season Super Bowl winners reveals that there is one teams chances that have taken a nosedive.

That team is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who bet365 Sport now rate as only 33/1 outsiders to win the Super Bowl next season and that is all because their key man, GOAT quarterback Tom Brady, has once again decided to retire from the game.

Brady, of course, retired at the same time last season only to reverse his decision six weeks later, however while he led the Bucs to victory in the NFC South, their 8-9 record was the worst of Brady’s career and they were well beaten in the playoffs Wildcard round by the Dallas Cowboys.

And now the Bucs face the task of replacing the greatest NFL player in history, who played the most important and key role in the offense.

Not an easy task, especially when you consider that the Bucs are almost $58m over the 2023 salary cap for the forthcoming season.

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However, the ripples from Tom Brady’s retirement won’t just be felt in Tampa. Potentially, his retirement could massively affect the whole QB market and in this article, we’ll explore some of the ramifications now that the greatest of all time has called it a day.

The Situation In Tampa Bay

The news of Brady’s retirement will have been keenly felt in Tampa Bay. Brady’s three-years in Florida has seen three trips to the post-season and one Super Bowl success.

However, it seems likely that the short-era of using expensive veterans for short-term success is now over.

The Bucs are on the hook for around $35m in dead cap space due to how Brady’s contract was structured, although a re-work of the contract could see that split over two years ($11m in 2023/24 and $24m in 2024/25).

However, the Bucs are almost $58m over the $224.8m salary cap set by the NFL last week and they also have over 20 other unrestricted free agents, a number of which they will be keen to keep.

So there are some tough questions that lie ahead for the Tampa Bay staff, chief of which is who replaces Brady under center?

  • Who Replaces Tom Brady?

Essentially, it appears that the Bucs have four options:

  1. Keep on Blaine Gabbert and allow him to take over from his backup role.

On the positive side, this is a cheap option (Gabbert was paid $2.25m in 2022 and would only need a small raise to take over as QB 1). He is also familiar with the offense in Tampa Bay.]

However, he played in just one game last season, attempted just eight passes, completing 6 for 29 yards and one touchdown. He has not been a starter since 2010 and has thrown just 35 passes for the Cardinals in three-years at the franchise.

Additionally, he is 33-years-old and in a team with a lot of older players, he wouldn’t help the Bucs get any younger. At best, I see the Bucs bringing him back as a back-up, but I feel he will most likely be released.

  • Hand the reins to third choice QB Kyle Trask

After not suiting up in his first year at Tampa, Trask at least got some game time in the final match of the season, a 31-17 loss to the Falcons, but he didn’t really light up the game, completing 3 of 9 passes for just 23 yards.

A tall, pocket passer, Trask is similar to Brady given his accuracy and lack of mobility, but it is clear from his performance last season, stepping up to QB would be a massive leap up for him. I see him remaining at Tampa in a backup QB role next season.

  • Pick up a QB from Free Agency or Via a trade.

There are some intriguing QB options set to be available in the off-season in the NFL, but the one big issue here is that I don’t think the Bucs could afford to bring in a QB of the calibre they’d need to fill Brady’s footsteps, given the cap hell they find themselves in.

  • Draft a potential starter in the 2023 NFL Draft

For me, this makes the most sense. In a draft that is heavy on QB talent, the Bucs middle of the first round pick should see them able to pick up a solid QB option, or they could try and move up the draft to secure Florida prospect Anthony Richardson. The offensive line though is also a big priority so if they can’t find the right QB here, expect them to draft an O-lineman and then pick up one or maybe even 2 QB’s later in the draft (such as Bo Nix of Oregon, or Jaren Hall of BYU).

The Knock-On Effect Of Brady’s Retirement On The NFL QB Market

There is no doubt that Brady’s decision to retire will have a big effect on how the QB market plays out in the NFL over the post-season period, both before and after the 2023 NFL Draft.

Some of the biggest names set to be free agents in 2023, unless they can agree a new deal with their current team or are franchise-tagged, include the following:

  • Baker Mayfield (LA Rams)
  • Sam Darnold (Carolina Panthers)
  • Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco 49ers)
  • Teddy Bridgewater (Miami Dolphins)
  • Daniel Jones (NY Giants)
  • Geno Smith (Seattle Seahawks)
  • Mike White (NY Jets)
  • Taylor Heinicke (Washington Commanders)
  • Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens)
  • Gardner Minshew (Philadelphia Eagles)

In addition, it appears that a number of Quarterbacks could potentially leave their current teams with the likes of Derek Carr (Raiders), Ryan Tannehill (Titans), Carson Wentz (Commanders), Jameis Winston (Saints), Matt Ryan (Colts) and Marcus Mariota (Falcons) all potentially being traded or released.

With Lamar Jackson likely to be franchise tagged by the Ravens, plus Geno Smith and Daniel Jones likely to re-sign with their current teams, that means the QB action this year will likely start in Las Vegas, where Derek Carr will likely be traded, or released if no trades are forthcoming, allowing the 49ers to bring in Jimmy Garoppolo.

Carr will interest a number of teams but the Jets seem a good fit for him, while I would also expect Carolina to test the water.

However, I can see many teams with a need at QB looking to the NFL Draft to address their issues, with a number of QB’s expected to go in the first round this year, in contrast to just one last year, plus several good options likely to be available in the mid and later rounds of the draft, I think teams such as Tampa will seek to address the needs here.

And you can bet that teams that need a veteran QB, will be texting Mr Brady asking him if his retirement is permanent, or whether he can be persuaded to play for just one more season.

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