Brady expected to announce retirement decision soon

Numerous sources close to Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady remain convinced that the all-time great is preparing to retire from the game, with a formal announcement expected shortly.

Several sources who are within Brady's inner circle anticipate that he will most likely reveal his future plans in the coming days. Brady is a historian of the game, he understands what it takes for players and teams to reach this point in the season, and would not want to upstage the game itself in any way. Making an announcement the week leading up to the Super Bowl would not be his style, and waiting until after the Super Bowl, with the scouting combine then just weeks away, might begin to cut into the Buccaneers' ability to pivot as an organization and readjust their plans for 2022 if it was now to not include arguably the greatest football player who ever lived.

"He is very respectful of the game, and has great respect for the Tampa organization and all they have done for him," said one source close to the quarterback. "He understands the ramifications that this decision would have on the team moving forward, and he would never want to do anything to upstage the playoffs. Whatever he decides, I'd expect he announces it soon."

While Brady has not said much explicitly about his plans, many teammates and close associates believe he went into this postseason knowing it would be his final run, no matter the outcome in the playoffs, as reported last week. The perception among that group remains the same, and Brady himself was far less declarative about his future playing status after last week's loss to the Rams than he has ever been before. Within the Bucs organization, sources said, there has been a growing sense that the team will end up in the market for a new starting quarterback next season, which likely means other top players like Rob Gronkowski opt to call is a career as well.

It was always going to be impossible for the Bucs to retain all 22 starters for the 2022 season the way they were able to last year after winning the Super Bowl, and Brady's retirement would precipitate other alterations in their team-building process. It would also very likely impact decisions by veterans like center Ryan Jensen as to whether or not to move on if the Bucs do find themselves in a rebuilding or retooling mode.

Most teams are already well into their offseason preparations and determining their needs and plans for free agency and the trade market, and those machinations will begin in earnest a month from now at the combine. Brady is fully aware of the ripple effect his departure would have on the organization, and however he opts to formalize his plans – on social media or through a press conference or both – there is a growing anticipation that it's coming this week.

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