Could Tom Brady return to the Patriots? Experts sure think so

With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers struggles in 2022, it’s no certainty that Tom Brady will return to Florida next season. Could he leave for a familiar spot — the New England Patriots?

The New England Patriots have quarterback issues of their own — namely, Mac Jones hasn’t shown the same promise as his rookie season in Year 2. A solid performance against the Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving could change that, but for now, Pats fans are left wondering if they chose the right guy to replace Tom Brady.

Although, is there really any possibility of “replacing” a future Hall of Famer and arguably the best quarterback of all time?

At 45 years young, Brady still has some fire left in him, and there’s no guarantee he hangs up his cleats in 2023. TB12 could pull a Doug Flutie and play into his late 40’s, if not 50. It was always a goal of his, anyway.

Will Tom Brady return to Buccaneers next season?

Without Bruce Arians at the helm, the Bucs have taken a major step back offensively. Even with a veteran like Brady running the show, without a good play-caller, something has been missing. Perhaps having a defensively-minded head coach like Todd Bowles has impacted that. Bowles is a tremendous football mind, but what defensive coaches lack in offensive play-calling, they often make up for in defensive schemes and leadership.

For Brady, though, it might not be the best fit at this point in his career. Winning is everything when time is at a premium, and the Bucs are an afterthought in the NFC.

Could Tom Brady sign with the Patriots?

Given New England’s uncertainty at the quarterback position, it could make sense to hit pause on the Mac Jones/Bailey Zappe experience, and bring in Brady for a year to make a serious run at things. The Patriots have a roster built for playoff contention, and who knows how many years Bill Belichick has left in him?

Why not make one more run at it? Jeff Howe of The Athletic (subscription required) won’t rule it out.

“Brady and Bill Belichick still have an abundance of respect for one another. They’ve made points to say it publicly on multiple occasions since the QB departed for Tampa. They also spent 23 minutes together in the visiting locker room at Gillette Stadium following Brady’s return in 2021 — an appointment they set up prior to the game.”

The only issue, as Howe points out, is that Brady would want a better playcaller than Matt Patricia, which is fair. In this scenario, incapable playcalling would be exactly why he’s leaving Tampa Bay.

I’m not saying a return to the Patriots is in the works. For now, it’s just an idea — but one that has some backing, when you really think about it.