And it all comes together. The biggest stories of the 2022 NFL offseason have converged into one massive, film-script-worthy storyline today as PFT’s Mike Florio reported that the Tom Brady-Dolphins rumors floating around were not, in fact, fake — but his retirement was.
It seems that the Tom Brady retirement reversal wasn’t so much of a reversal as a plot gone very, very wrong. PFT, which initially reported part of the story in late February, revealed that Brady never actually intended to retire from the sport. He wanted to leave the Buccaneers to become a part-owner of the Dolphins, where, if all went according to plan, they would hire Sean Payton as their new head coach and Brady would negotiate a trade from Tampa Bay to start as Miami’s new quarterback.
Enter Brian Flores, the fired Dolphins head coach, who blew this plan to pieces with a groundbreaking lawsuit accusing the NFL of widespread racial discrimination in hiring practices. In the lawsuit, he also alleged that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had attempted to bribe Flores to throw games, and had attempted to convince Flores to recruit another active QB, a violation of league rules that Flores refused to go along with.
The active QB in question? TB12, of course.
One major issue with this plan was that Payton, who unexpectedly stepped down from his longtime role as the Saints’ head coach earlier this year, made it very clear that he was not planning on returning to coaching anytime soon. The Saints also refused to let the Dolphins speak with him. Perhaps he could have been convinced with the promise of Brady and a fat paycheck, but it’s unclear whether he was aware of this plan.
It couldn’t have been worse timing for Brady. On the very same day that he announced his “retirement” that was supposed to kick off this plan, Flores filed the lawsuit against the NFL. Brady, again, with no actual intent to retire, then had to come back out of retirement still with the Buccaneers — which was a somewhat confusing development at the time, but which has been more than cleared up by this news.
The retirement was a convoluted effort to essentially manipulate the Bucs into releasing him without ever publicly demanding a trade or causing contention. The Dolphins ended up hiring Mike McDaniel, who called the Brady rumors “fake news.” Tua Tagovailoa will remain as Miami’s starting QB come fall.
Flores was joined today by two more plaintiffs who formerly coached for the Arizona Cardinals and the Tennessee Titans. Flores also added the Houston Texans as a defendant to his lawsuit in an amended complaint.
Brady will reach free agency in 2023, and now that his retirement announcement doesn’t sound nearly as sincere, he may well end up heading to Miami after next season, despite approaching 50. When Brady was still with the Patriots, there were rumors that his contract was so low because owner Robert Kraft had promised him part ownership upon retirement, though Kraft has denied the existence of such a deal.