Over the past few weeks, speculation has run rampant that Tom Brady retired to force his way out of Tampa Bay. Where did this speculation come from? Thin air, basically. Rumors, led most notably by Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio and radio host Rich Ohrnberger, suggested Brady wanted to play elsewhere in 2022. San Francisco was often mentioned as a possible destination, given that the 49ers are Brady’s childhood favorite team.

But on Sunday, hours after Brady announced he was returning to the Bucs after a 41-day retirement, the truth came out. ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, who helped break the news of Brady’s retirement, appeared on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt to dispel the rumors.

“How much did Brady explore the possibility (of playing elsewhere), if at all?” asked Van Pelt.

“He didn’t (explore the possibility), as far as I understand it,” Darlington said. “I’ve had conversations with people close to Brady and people with the organization. He was committed to playing with the Bucs if he was going to play in 2022. He was still in contact with them. And still having conversations with the Bucs organization about personnel stuff.

“So this was not a scenario where Brady was saying, ‘If I come back, maybe I’ll go talk to San Francisco’. Or, whatever. This was going to be Bucs or bust. And ultimately that’s what he decided.”

Bucs GM Jason Licht and QB Tom Brady White House

Bucs GM Jason Licht and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

In a statement by Jason Licht shortly after Brady’s announcement went public, the general manager said the Bucs had been preparing for “in recent days”. Licht made it clear at the Combine that Brady could return to the organization this offseason.

“Also, he had the commitment from the organization all along,” Darlington said. “You have to give credit to Jason Licht, the general manager. He could have been quick to turn the page. But he said it himself, ‘I’m gonna leave the light on’. And he knew, he felt it from Brady himself. I think he deserves credit for leaving things in place. Just in case Brady made this very decision.”

Darlington’s comments should end speculation that Brady was ever interested in leaving Tampa Bay. In fact, he loved it so much he abandoned retirement to return to the gridiron. Now, the Bucs can focus their energy on re-signing a host of critical free agents. On Sunday night, center Ryan Jensen re-upped with the team on a three-year deal. Hopefully that is the first of several free agent dominoes that fall the Bucs way this week.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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bucballer
bucballer
3 months ago

Yes! Big Red is back! That is crucial to that interior of the line. If Brady calls u and ask u if u want to make another run for a ring with him, what do u honestly think they will say? This, my friends, is the Brady effect. The glorious Brady effect is in full effect once again!

Kimba
Kimba
3 months ago

Jason Licht is under rated. He has a kind way about him and as such it has allowed him to build and keep an outstanding roster of athletes and coaching staff. The comment, “we’ll leave the light on for you” was heartfelt and likely appreciated by Brady.

scubog
scubog
3 months ago

And to think some fans were so quick to jump on that “fake news” about Brady being upset that Leftwich didn’t use enough play-action and Arians red-lined game plans.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  scubog
3 months ago

Well, it fit their narrative, you know … they made it their life’s mission to run down Leftwich and even Arians, as well as Bowles (including their repeated infantile mis-spelling of the man’s last name by the same crowd of yuckleheads). So hey, why not blame Brady’s retirement on our coaches?

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
3 months ago

It was fun to read Florio’s latest posting he made just before Tom Brady’s unretirement, repeating his bullshit prediction that Brady wanted all along to play for the Forty Niners and just retired to force the Bucs’ hand (never mind that Tom Brady signed a one year extension just last year, and then went out and had a career season with the Bucs).