NFC Notes: Tom Brady, Buccaneers, Falcons, Saints, Sean Payton


  • SI’s Albert Breer believes Buccaneers QB Tom Brady will return for a 23rd, and final, season in the NFL, though he notes that it’s anyone’s guess at this point whether he actually does.
  • Regarding the team’s cap structure, Breer notes that the team has several key free agents that the team would like to bring back. As it stands, Tampa Bay has roughly $20-$25 million in cap space and would likely need to make a host of moves in order to bring Brady back and field a championship-caliber team around him.
  • On the other hand, if Brady does decide that 2021 was his final season in the NFL, Breer believes the team will engage in “a year of pretty serious retooling.
  • ESPN’s Jenna Laine expects Tampa Bay to work hard to re-sign WR Chris Godwin, CB Carlton Davis and C Ryan Jensen among other pending free agents. Someone who could be lost in the shuffle, however, is G Alex Cappa
  • Brady said on his Let’s Go Podcast that he enjoys playing football, but he’s also enjoying watching his kids grow up, which will play a factor in any potential retirement decision he makes: “Playing football I get so much joy from. I love it. But not playing football, there’s a lot of joy in that for me also now, too, with my kids getting older and seeing them develop and grow. So all these things need to be considered and they will be.” (Rick Stroud)
  • Brady added that the team deserves someone at the helm who will prepare day-in-and-day-out in a championship manner, and notes that he must be prepared to do that if he commits to another season: “The team doesn’t deserve anything less than my best. And if I feel like I’m not committed to that, or I can’t play at a championship level, then you gotta give someone else a chance to play.  And, you know, we’ll see.” (Stroud)
  • Brady said his family will play an influential role in his next steps: “I said this a few years ago, it’s what relationships are all about.  It’s not always what I want.  It’s what we want as a family.  And I’m gonna spend a lot of time with them and figure out in the future what’s next.” (Stroud)
  • Brady explains that his duties as a father and a husband will take precedent over furthering his playing career: “It pains her to see me get hit out there.  And she deserves what she needs from me as a husband and my kids deserve what they need from me as a dad.” (Stroud)


  • ESPN’s Michael Rothstein notes the Falcons would love to re-sign LB Foyesade Oluokun but they don’t have a ton of financial flexibility and another team could outbid them. 


  • In an excerpt from his upcoming book, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio says the Cowboys and Saints nearly had an agreement to trade HC Sean Payton to Dallas following the 2019 season. 
  • Florio says there was mutual interest from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Payton and a deal had been arranged behind the scenes for the Cowboys to trade for the rights to sign Payton to a contract in the week after New Orleans lost to the Rams in the NFC championship. 
  • However, what scuttled the deal was that eight days after the loss, Pelicans forward Anthony Davis announced he would not re-sign with the team. Saints GM Mickey Loomis, who is also the EVP of the Pelicans, reportedly told Payton he couldn’t be a common thread between two successive, high-profile Louisiana sports departures. 
  • Payton said he is happy he gets to go out on his own terms: “We coach, we coach, we coach and at some point, they tell you to leave. And as difficult as being fired is, in some ways, it’s easier to tell everyone and move on.” (Katherine Terrell)
  • Payton appreciates that owner Gayle Benson gave him time to make a decision: “Because it is a big decision that affects a lot of people.” (Mike Triplett)
  • He also thanked Benson in his retirement press conference: “There could be no better owner for me to have worked for, starting with your late husband, Mr. Tom Benson.” (John Hendrix)
  • Payton mentioned he’s not leaving the New Orleans area. (Amie Just)
  • Payton said he doesn’t have a plan for the future: “As I sit here today, I don’t know what’s next. I haven’t spoken to anyone from a media outlet relative to doing TV or radio. Maybe that opportunity arises… I think I’d like to do that and I think I’d be pretty good at it.” (Jonathan Jones)
  • Payton added he may return to coaching in the future: “I don’t know what’s next. … I don’t like the word retirement. I still have a vision for doing things in football. That might be coaching again. But that’s not where my heart is right now.”  (Jon Machota)
  • He is happy that his future isn’t determined, though: “I don’t know what’s next, and it kind of feels good.” (Triplett)
  • The idea of making this decision first occurred to Payton during training camp, and as the season unfolded he felt it was the right decision. (Terrell)
  • Payton also confirmed he is stepping away instead of changing teams: “My plans are not to be coaching in 2022.” (Just)
  • Payton confirmed he called former Saints QB Drew Brees about playing vs. Miami: “I think we both agreed based on our lineup versus Miami that it was a good thing he didn’t come.” (Just)
  • Payton both supported DC Dennis Allen‘s candidacy for the job and said he isn’t planning a return any time soon: “In fairness to Dennis (Allen) who’s a great candidate in the building or any other coach that possibly would be hired, there’s no half-in in this game.” (Triplett)
  • Regarding whether money was a factor for him to move on, Payton said: “I’ve got three more years under contract here. I just completed year 2 of a five year deal. It wasn’t about compensation or any of that.” (Luke Jackson)

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