NFC Notes: Tom Brady, Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints


  • Per the Athletic’s Greg Auman, Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians said he has it on good authority QB Tom Brady is staying retired: “He slammed it shut when I talked to him.”
  • Arians told reporters he was surprised when he learned about Brady’s decision: “The way he was playing I had myself convinced he was coming back.” (Rick Stroud)
  • Licht noted “it wasn’t a total shock” but he had hoped Brady “would play until he was 50.” (Jim McBride)
  • Regarding a potential replacement for Brady, Arians says they have a board of about eight options. (Stroud)
  • However, he does not expect the trade market to be very active this offseason: “We’ll do our due diligence. This year there’s not much available. We’ll see what trades could be available — and does it better your org. You’re going to have to give a lot for some of these guys, if they’re even available.” (Jeff Darlington)
  • Darlington adds he can report Brady has no plans to return. Arians however continued the theme from Tampa Bay of letting Brady know he can come back if he changes his mind: “If Tom wants to come back, we’re open arms, brother. I don’t think it’s going to happen, and we have to prepare for next year.”
  • Added Licht regarding a potential quarterback trade: “There’s always some chatter. There’s always some talk. It’s usually more talk than action.” (Stroud)
  • Arians said it would be up to ownership to give the stamp of approval if they decided to trade for Texans QB Deshaun Watson: “It would strictly be an organizational signoff. I’ve known the kid for a long time, am shocked that he’s in the situation.” (Auman)
  • Regarding Brady potentially coming back with the desire to play for another team, Arians shot down any thought of the Buccaneers accomodating him: “Nope. Bad business.” (Stroud)
  • He quipped it would take five first-round picks for them to trade Brady’s rights. (Stroud)
  • If the Buccaneers add a free-agent quarterback, Arians believes backup QB Blaine Gabbert would “probably” be re-signed to compete to start. (Auman)
  • Buccaneers 2021 second-round QB Kyle Trask will have the opportunity to compete for the starting job during camp, per Arians. (Stroud)
  • Arians isn’t “totally opposed” to bringing back Saints QB Jameis Winston, but adds he doesn’t think it would be the best thing for Winston. (Stroud)
  • Arians mentioned he was surprised but not shocked about G Ali Marpet‘s retirement. He added it definitely changes their priorities. (Stroud)
  • Per Licht, Tampa Bay would ideally like to keep both G Alex Cappa and C Ryan Jensen. The two are pending free agents and if they walked, the Buccaneers would be starting over on their interior offensive line. (Stroud)
  • Arians said the Buccaneers could use the franchise tag on WR Chris Godwin for the second consecutive offseason. (Stroud)
  • Licht added it would be “hard to imagine” a Buccaneers offense without Godwin. (Martin Frank)
  • According to Arians, Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski has been working out twice a week at the team facility. (Stroud)
  • Buccaneers OLB Jason Pierre-Paul and DT Ndamukong Suh have told Arians they aren’t retiring and plan to play in 2022. But it’s unclear if Tampa Bay will be able to bring them back. (Auman)
  • Buccaneers RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn has made “massive strides” according to Licht. He’s the only back currently under contract for 2022. (Auman)
  • Licht mentioned Buccaneers RT Tristan Wirfs will not need surgery this offseason to fix the ankle he injured during the playoffs. (Stroud)
  • Arians is frustrated OC Byron Leftwich and DC Todd Bowles keep being passed over for head coaching jobs: “It really pisses me off. Two years now, they both should be head coaches. I don’t know what’s going on with the process. I think Byron was very, very close in Jacksonville.” (Auman)
  • The Buccaneers promoted John Van Dam to TE coach, with former TE coach Rick Christophel moving to become a senior offensive assistant. (Auman)


  • Falcons GM Terry Fontenot said Tuesday they are not at the point where they feel like they can make a big splash in free agency with a costly signing. Fontenot added they still have a lot of work to do regarding their salary cap. (Tori McElhaney)
  • Fontenot explained their overall approach and plans to be smart and disciplined this offseason: “[An] elephant in the room is whether we’re rebuilding or trying to win now. We’re trying to have our cake and eat it, too.” (Scott Blair)
  • Fontenot mentioned they will need to continue to find players after the first wave of free agency capable of setting in and having an impact for them much like Cordarrelle Patterson did last year. Fontenot said they plan to sell the city of Atlanta hard to free agents. (Michael Rothstein)
  • As for WR Calvin Ridley, Fontenot mentioned there is no update on where things stand with Ridley at this point in time. (Eliot Shorr-Parks
  • Josh Kendall reports that there continues to be no update on Ridley’s future with the Falcons, but members of Atlanta’s organization have been in direct contact with him during the most recent parts of the process. 
  • Falcons HC Arthur Smith said they expect QB Matt Ryan to be part of the team next season, but he left the door open in the event someone makes them an offer they can’t refuse: “You don’t ever back yourself into a corner. If somebody gives you an offer you can’t refuse, I mean, Matt knows how we feel about him. I think Matt’s got a lot of good football left in him.” (Pro Football Talk)
  • Smith added: “Obviously, we just watched in our division, Tom [Brady] played until he was — maybe he’ll still play, I don’t know. Certainly didn’t look his age. And Matt’s a lot younger than Tom. And I understand there’s only one Tom Brady.


  • In an interview with Rich Eisen, NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah says he’s been told the Panthers are already zeroing in on taking an offensive lineman with the No. 6 pick no matter what: “Carolina, from everything I’ve been told…they are dead-set on the offensive line. And to me it was like — put to me from somebody who’s tight in there with those guys — is no matter what give them an offensive linemen, even if you think it’s a reach.”
  • In his latest mock draft, Jeremiah has Carolina selecting Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning


  • The Saints are expected to hire University of Alabama Director of Sports Science Matt Rhea. (Josh Pate)

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