Brady’s retirement could be blessing for Bears in multiple ways originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Tom Brady era is officially over. For good this time.
The 46-year-old, seven-time Super Bowl champion announced his retirement Wednesday morning with a video posted to his social media channels. Brady retired last offseason but unretired after just 40 days, electing to return for one more run with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The legendary quarterback insists that this time there will be no takebacks.
With Brady hanging it up, several teams expected to be in the market for a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback now must look elsewhere. The Las Vegas Raiders, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, and Bucs now must pivot their quarterback carousel plans away from dreams of having the GOAT suit up for them.
While the Bears were never going to be swimming in the Brady pool this offseason, his retirement should impact their offseason plans in a few ways.
We’ll start with the obvious.
With Brady no longer a lead option in offseason quarterback market, several teams will have to pivot their attention to Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr.
The Raiders, who are moving on from Carr, were long seen as the presumed landing spot for Brady. Now, the Silver and Black will either have to make a hard push for Rodgers – should the Packers decide to trade the 39-year-old – or look at a potential trade-up in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Raiders currently own the No. 7 overall pick and have the future trade assets to potentially entice the Bears into a draft deal. At the very least, the Raiders potentially entering the trade-up discussion allows the Bears to create more leverage in possible talks with the Houston Texans (No. 2 overall) and Indianapolis Colts (No. 4 overall).
Brady removing himself from the carousel makes the Rodgers drama the marquee attraction for the offseason, with the Bears primed to take advantage of whichever teams don’t land their archnemesis or Carr.
The Jets now appear to be a potential sleeper entrant in the expected trade sweepstakes for the No. 1 pick.
The Jets have a ready-to-win roster but have a gaping hole at quarterback. After Zach Wilson’s Year 2 implosion, head coach Robert Saleh probably can’t afford to trot Wilson back out next season, or he’ll risk losing the locker room.
If the Packers don’t trade Rodgers or the Jets aren’t the winning bidder, New York might have to pivot into another swing at a quarterback in the draft. The Jets own the No. 13 pick in the draft, so a trade up to No. 1 would likely cost them several first-round picks, similar to what the 49ers gave up in 2021 to move from No. 12 to No. 3.
Carr is the wild card in this scenario. The Raiders must trade or cut him before Feb. 15, when his $40 million salary is fully guaranteed. If the Jets are interested in Carr, they must decide soon. There’s no guarantee the Rodgers situation will be resolved by then.
If the Jets choose to wait for the possibility of a Rodgers trade, that could put them in a bind should he not be traded or be dealt elsewhere. That could up the desperation meter on the need to make a potential big draft move up for Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud.
That brings us to the Bucs, who currently have no quarterback.
Tampa Bay could opt to go the veteran route, grabbing Carr or perhaps Jimmy Garoppolo and trying to win a mediocre NFC South with someone under Brady’s weight class.
If the Bucs choose not to go the patch-and-play route, they could opt for a medium or full-scale rebuild.
Tampa choosing that path could potentially open the door for the Bears to make a run at the No. 1 wide receiver they desperately need in Mike Evans.
At 29, Evans still is at the peak of his powers and would give the Bears the downfield, jump-ball threat they need to help quarterback Justin Fields take the next step.
The Bears traded their second-round pick for Chase Claypool but should have several draft assets coming in once the expected trade down from the No. 1 spot is executed.
Suppose the price for Evans is a second-round pick or a future first. In that case, I’d expect the Bears to be very interested in making a run at adding a go-to receiver who can allow Claypool and Darnell Mooney to operate in roles they are more suited to handle.
After 23 seasons, Brady bid adieu to the NFL on Wednesday and perhaps unknowingly gave the Bears a parting gift in the process.