The most challenging season of Tom Brady’s 23-year NFL career came to an end Monday night when the Buccaneers lost, 31-14, to the Cowboys in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Brady’s decision to end last offseason’s brief 40-day retirement to continue playing football cost him his 13-year marriage to supermodel Gisele Bundchen. The divorce was finalized at the end of October.

Brady had his first losing season in the NFL. The Buccaneers won a weak NFC South with an 8-9 record.

Father Time finally started catching up with the 45-year-old. He didn’t come close to replicating his MVP-caliber 2021 campaign in which he threw for a league leading (and a career high) 5,316 yards and 43 touchdown passes. Brady broke his own NFL single-season records with 733 pass attempts and 490 completions this season. He was also third in the league with 4,694 passing yards.

Brady looked every bit of his age against the Cowboys. It was arguably the worst playoff game of his career. He only completed 53% of his eye-popping 66 pass attempts and was fortunate to only throw one interception. 


Brady’s contract history with Bucs

Brady was noncommittal on his future during his postgame press conference. He stated he was going to take things “one day at a time.”

Brady is set to enter free agency for the second time in his career, as his contract expires March 15. He can’t be prevented from hitting the open market. Brady’s contract contains a clause prohibiting the Buccaneers from designating him as a franchise or transition player. 

The Buccaneers radically changed their approach to salary cap management after signing Brady to a fully guaranteed two-year, $50 million contract worth a maximum of $59 million with incentives as an unrestricted free agent in March 2020. Win-now mode personnel moves were constantly made with little regard to long-range planning. Salary cap obligations were consistently pushed into the future through a series of contract restructures with multiple players, including Brady. The bill will start coming due if Brady retires.

Brady freed up $19.3 million of 2021 salary cap room that March with a one-year, $27,941,176 contract extension, which helped the Buccaneers “keep the band together” to try to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

The extension included three voiding/dummy contract years (2023 through 2025), so his fully guaranteed $20 million fifth-day-of-the-2021-league-year roster bonus and $20 million signing bonus could be prorated over five years (through 2025) instead of over just two years (through 2022).