Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said he would still be leading the team if Tom Brady did not decide to come out of retirement.

Not long after Tampa Bay’s playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Brady retired and the Buccaneers were left without a proven quarterback on their roster.

Less than six weeks later, the seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback opted to return and two weeks later, Arians announced that he would be stepping down as head coach and moving into a role in the Bucs' front office, with Todd Bowles becoming the new head coach.

The new Senior Football Consultant explained he was unwilling to leave Bowles with uncertainty at the quarterback position, with Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask on the roster.

"I was going the other way. I was thinking he wasn’t going to play," Arians said. "I was thinking about who are we going to get? Who wants to trade? There wasn’t anybody in the draft.

"That was obvious. Me, to the public, I was fine with the two we had: Blaine and Kyle. Because I’ve seen Blaine win with a good team behind him. Had Tom not come back, I probably would still be coaching. I couldn’t give Todd that situation.”

Because of the timing, rumours circulated that a rift existed between Brady and Arians, but Arians stuck to his line that he had already been thinking about quitting and did not want to leave Bowles with an unsettled quarterback situation.

Arians, who turns 70 in October, also said that he was “upset” with the hiring cycle and expected both Bowles and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich to get head coaching jobs. He also admitted that the upcoming season would have been his last anyway.

“I had a bunch of people lined up to take their jobs,” Arians said. “When they were both here and Tom came back, I thought it was the perfect time.”

Less than three weeks after Tom Brady announced he was unretiring and returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in mid-March, coach Bruce Arians decided to retire.

Despite the timing of Arians' decision to step away, Brady denies having any problems with his former boss.

"Zero whatsoever," Brady said of Arians on Thursday. "He and I have a great relationship. Part of the reason I chose here was because of Bruce.

"I have great respect for him. He knows how I feel about him – that's the most important thing. And I know how he feels about me."

Brady and Arians won the Super Bowl in their first season together with Tampa Bay in 2020.

Shortly after the 69-year-old coach announced his decision to retire on March 30, future Hall of Fame quarterback Brady took to Instagram to say Arians was a major reason he decided to join the Bucs and that he'll be "forever grateful".

Todd Bowles is taking over from Arians as Brady is returning for his third season with Tampa Bay and 23rd in pro football after leading the league with a career-high 5,316 passing yards in 2021, while also ranking first in passing touchdowns with 43.

The soon-to-be 45-year-old led the Buccaneers to a 13-4 regular-season record and NFC South crown last year, but their season ended with a 27-20 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Brady's long-time companion, Rob Gronkowski, was targeted 11 times in the loss to the Rams, but it's uncertain if he'll be suiting up again this season.

Though many expected Gronkowski to announce he would return after Brady unretired, the 33-year-old tight end has not revealed any decision, and Brady, who has already lured Gronkowski out of retirement once, said he is unaware of his plans.

"I think it's just obviously totally up to him," Brady said. "We'd all love to play with him, but he's got to make the best decision for himself, and he knows that.

"Anyone who cares about him knows that he's doing what's right for him, which is trying to figure it out. We don't have training camp for about six weeks, so whatever he's got to do to figure it out.

"We'll be hopeful if he does, and if he doesn't, then we still gotta go out there and figure out what to do."

The oft-injured Gronkowski is a free agent so does not have to return to the Bucs, though he has implied that if he does play, it will be with Brady.

Brady was reportedly courted by the Miami Dolphins in the last few months while still under contract with Tampa Bay, and he did not refute the rumours that they wanted him as their quarterback or in a front office role.

"I had a lot of conversations with a lot of people," Brady said. "I've had for the last three or four years of my career about different opportunities when I'm done playing football so, I kind of made a decision of what I'd like to do, and I'll get to be in the game of football.

"I think for me, the most important thing is where I'm at now and what I hope to do for this team. That's been my commitment to this team and this organisation.

"It's been so much fun for me to come here two years ago. It's been almost two and a half now and it's been an incredible part of my football journey. And it's not over."

Tom Brady admitted he felt some pressure to end his brief retirement from the NFL and return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the time he did due to the start of free agency.

Speaking during a roundtable discussion on TNT on Wednesday, Brady implied he did not want the new league year to begin and the Buccaneers to make free agency decisions based on the assumption that the future Hall of Fame quarterback was retired and not coming back.

Brady's retirement lasted 40 days before he announced he would return on March 13 – three days before the start of free agency.

"At this stage, it's like 55 per cent yes and 45 per cent no. It's not 100-0. That's just the reality," Brady said. "It's not that I'm not 100 per cent committed, it's just as soon as I make the commitment to do it, it's like 'Ugh. All right, here we go.'

"It's like running a marathon. You can't decide two weeks before the marathon, 'Hey, I'm going to start running.' We got right to free agency and I felt some pressure to do it and talked to the team and organisation and it all worked out."

In speaking publicly for the first time since ending his retirement, Brady was asked if he had been ready to retire.

"Partly, you know, yes," the seven-time Super Bowl champion said. "And I think when you're their (Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen's) age, if you were to ask me 'Are you going to play football next year?' I would say there's a 100 per cent chance I'm playing. And I think as I've gotten older, that's changed because I have other responsibilities."

Brady is returning for his third season with Tampa Bay and 23rd in pro football after leading the league with a career-high 5,316 passing yards in 2021, while also ranking first in passing touchdowns with 43.

The soon-to-be 45-year-old led the Buccaneers to a 13-4 regular-season record and NFC South crown last year, but their season ended with a 27-20 loss to the eventual Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Harry Kane has revealed he took much of his early inspiration and self-belief from watching NFL star Tom Brady, who hinted at his retirement U-turn to the Tottenham forward.

Kane came through Tottenham's youth academy and was promoted to the first team in 2009, before being sent out on various loans to Leyton Orient, Millwall, Leicester City and Norwich City.

The striker struggled throughout those loan spells, scoring just 11 goals across four seasons, but started to find his feet when Mauricio Pochettino took charge of Spurs in 2014.

Kane has since managed 183 goals in 279 appearances for Tottenham, winning the Premier League Golden Boot award three times, and acknowledged the role Brady played in helping him realise his ambitions.

The England international has also been celebrated in the Museum of London, with a free display aimed at inspiring the younger generations to pursue their dreams.

"I was good when I was younger, but I don't think I was the best player on the team. I really had to work hard to prove people wrong," Kane told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show in the United States.

"I think that's what made me who I am today and got me to the level I got to. That kind of self-belief, that drive, that determination. 

"That's why the museum is there, so kids can go and look and see my journey and hopefully one day they will be inspired to be where I am.

"One thing that inspired me growing up was a Tom Brady documentary. I was away at another club on loan and I wasn't getting in the team and I was 18 years old and I was like: 'If I can't play here, how can I play for my team Tottenham?'

"Then I came across the documentary on YouTube called The Brady Six and it was about how he got picked in the sixth round and how he became one of the greatest sportsmen ever. It just gave me a real belief that it was possible for me to go on and have that career."

It appeared as though the 2021 season would be Brady's last when he announced his retirement after seven Super Bowl wins.

But the quarterback backtracked on that decision, returning to Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he has one year remaining on his contract.

Kane suggested he already knew the 44-year-old was going to change his mind when the pair met after a clash between Spurs and Manchester United in March.

"He came to one of our games in the UK about two months ago, it was actually the day before he announced he was coming back to play," Kane said.

"And I asked him: 'How you getting on? How's retirement treating you?' And his face was just like: 'Mmmmm, I'm not sure if I'm ready yet.' The next day he announced it."

The reigning Super Bowl champions will kick off the NFL season in Thursday night's primetime slot on September 8, as the Los Angeles Rams host this season's Super Bowl favourites, the Buffalo Bills.

There will be plenty of the Rams in this season's marquee timeslots as the full 2022-23 schedule was released on Thursday, including a Monday night fixture against the Green Bay Packers in week 15, and a Christmas Day game against Russell Wilson's Denver Broncos six days later.

The Broncos will not have to wait long for their first eyebrow-raising matchup, travelling to take on Wilson's former team, the Seattle Seahawks, in the first Monday night fixture of the season.

Week one's third primetime game sees Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers heading to 'Jerry World' to take on the Dallas Cowboys.

Patrick Mahomes – the man with the richest contract in the sport – will get his first primetime appearance of the season in week two's Thursday night showdown, as his Kansas City Chiefs host arguably Mahomes' only competition for best young quarterback, taking on Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers.

Four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers gets the Sunday night fixture in week two against the Packers' long-time rivals as the Chicago Bears come to town, and his week three matchup against Brady's Bucs will be must-see TV.

The Rams have the toughest strength-of-schedule based on their opponents' 2021-22 records (164-125, .567 winning percentage), while the Cowboys and the Washington Commanders are tied for the easiest schedule (133-155-1, .462 winning percentage).

Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions will be the only team in NFL this season to not have a primetime game.

The complete week one schedule features:

Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams (Thursday night)

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (Sunday afternoon)

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins

Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets

Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers

Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders

San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans 

New York Giants at Tennessee Titans (Sunday late-afternoon)

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers 

Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday night)

Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks (Monday night)

Tom Brady will join FOX Sports as an NFL analyst when he brings an end to his legendary career, but he first has "a lot of unfinished business" with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It appeared as though the 2021 season would be Brady's last when he announced his retirement after seven Super Bowl wins.

But the quarterback backtracked on that decision, returning to Tampa, where he has one year remaining on his contract.

While it is unclear whether Brady will again call time on his career in 2023, he has at least confirmed post-career plans.

"We are pleased to announce that immediately following his playing career, seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady will be joining us at FOX Sports as our lead analyst," said FOX executive chair and CEO Lachlan Murdoch.

"Over the course of this long-term agreement, Tom will not only call our biggest NFL games with Kevin Burkhardt but will also serve as an ambassador for us, particularly with respect to client and promotional initiatives.

"We are delighted that Tom has committed to joining the FOX team and wish him all the best during this upcoming season."

Brady reacted to the news on his Twitter page, posting: "Excited, but a lot of unfinished business on the field with the @Buccaneers."

Tom Brady has agreed to restructure his contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brady announced his retirement earlier this year, yet performed a U-turn on that decision last month to re-sign with the Bucs, who he led to a Super Bowl success at the end of the 2020 season.

There had been rumours that the Bucs were set to hold discussions with the 44-year-old, seven-time Super Bowl champion over potentially tying him down beyond the 2022 season, though general manager Jason Licht quashed that speculation.

Tampa have, however, managed to restructure Brady's existing deal to create over $9million of salary cap space ahead of next week's NFL Draft.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the news on Friday, citing league sources.

However, Brady is still set to become a free agent at the end of the season despite the restructuring.

Brady passed for more yards (5,316) than any other quarterback in the NFL across the 2021 regular season, registering a league-high 43 touchdown passes. His completion percentage of 67.5 ranked ninth.

Tampa reached the postseason, but lost to eventual Super Bowl winners the Los Angeles Rams.

Tom Brady knows he cannot play forever but feels for now there is "still a place for me on the field".

Legendary NFL quarterback Brady is returning for another year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers despite announcing his retirement earlier in the offseason.

The seven-time Super Bowl champion has a single season remaining on his contract in Tampa.

Brady is 44 and will be 45 by the time the 2022 season starts. Only two quarterbacks have played in the NFL at a greater age, and Brady will surpass Steve DeBerg (44 years and 342 days) when he next takes to the field.

George Blanda's record (48 years and 95 days) remains some way ahead, however, especially as Brady acknowledges the end of his extraordinary 318-game career is nearing.

"I knew my body, physically, could still do what it could do and obviously I have a love for the game," Brady told ESPN, explaining his return. "I think I'll always have a love for the game.

"I do think physically I'll be able to do it. I just felt like there was still a place for me on the field.

"At the end of the day, I just love the competition on the field, and last year was a very bitter ending to a season and we've got to make a lot of corrections to try to improve and put ourselves in a better position to succeed moving forward.

"I know I don't have a lot left, I really do. I know I'm at the end of my career. I wish you could go forever, but it's just not [possible] and football comes at too high of a cost now. My kids are getting older and it's just getting harder and harder to miss these things.

"But I wanted to give myself and my team-mates and our organisation another incredible opportunity to accomplish something that we'd all be very proud of."

The Match will return in 2022 and this time it will pit two of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks of all time against two well on their way to assuming the same title.

Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady were on opposing teams in The Match IV last year, Rodgers and Bryson DeChambeau beating Brady and Phil Mickelson, but the two future Hall of Famers will team up this time around.

Indeed, Brady and Rodgers will face off against two quarterbacks who are rapidly developing a compelling rivalry of their own on the field in Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills.

Mahomes and Allen faced off in one of the best playoff games in NFL history last season as the Chiefs fought back to beat the Bills in the AFC Divisional Round 42-36 in overtime, Kansas City having led a game-tying field goal drive in just 13 seconds to force the extra period.

There is no doubt they are the future of the NFL, but the June 1 meeting in Las Vegas with Brady and Rodgers will mark the first time their golf game will be on show for a worldwide audience.

Announcing the matchup on Twitter, Brady made it clear he and Rodgers are ready to strike a blow for the NFL's old guard.

He wrote: "We tried to make this a tag team cage match but the lawyers said our contracts wouldn't allow it… #CapitalOnesTheMatch is back, June 1st. Let's kick their a**."

The $518,000 sale of Tom Brady's 'last' touchdown pass football has been mutually voided after the greatest quarterback in NFL history reneged on retirement.

In what seemed like an unbelievable stroke of misfortune for the buyer, Brady spectacularly announced his return to the game less than 24 hours after the purchase was finalised, although money was yet to exchange hands.

Brady's decision not to retire came 40 days after initially announcing his playing career was over in late-January, causing chaos in the sports collectible world.

But the anonymous buyer has been spared the devastating blow as Lelands Auctions – who facilitated the sale – announced on Thursday that the purchase had been voided by a mutual agreement.

"We wanted to do the right thing here," Mike Heffner, president and partner at Lelands, said.

"It's the most unique situation that we'll probably ever encounter in our lifetimes – at least when it comes to sports memorabilia. We're still not to the end of the book yet; we've written a chapter."

While the ball may not be Brady's last ever touchdown pass, it is for the time being, and Heffner said the owner still plans on selling it privately through Lelands.

"All parties were waiting to see how it played out," he said.

"Tom Brady, let's face it, is kind of unpredictable these days. Until he throws that first touchdown pass in September, this ball is still the record."

Rob Gronkowski is not yet certain if he will return for the 2022 season, saying he is "not ready to commit to the game of football right now".

Gronkowski previously retired in 2018 and sat out the 2019 season before joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to link up with former New England Patriots team-mate Tom Brady.

The tight end helped Tampa to a Super Bowl triumph in the 2020 campaign and a playoff run last season, but his deal has run out and he is currently a free agent.

Brady sensationally reversed his decision to retire last month, agreeing to return to Tampa for another season.

Gronkowski, a four-time All Pro, has not yet made a similar decision, however.

"Right now, I'm not ready to get back out on that field," Gronkowski told TMZ Sports.

"I'm not ready to commit to the game of football right now."

Brady's retirement and subsequent decision to return came as a surprise to many, though not long-time team-mate Gronkowski.

"I knew he was going to come back, but I didn't think he was going to come back this year, to tell you the truth," he added.

"I thought he was going to come back in a year, spend some time with his family.

"He's not done, man... The guy's 44 and, let me tell you, he doesn't look a day over 23 when he's throwing the football around."

While Gronkowski remains uncertain on his own future, the 32-year-old is attempting to stay clear of making a rushed decision.

That even resulted in him refusing to catch passes in a recent charity event, instead electing to take on the role of quarterback.

"I knew if I started catching some passes that my head would have started turning, like, 'Oh, crap, I got to get back out on the field,'" he said.

"Even in your 30s, I mean, you just can't just slack it and just be 50 per cent all-in, then you're going to get caught off with the game and it's going to just spit you right out.

"You've got to be fully dedicated. I'm not ready to do that yet, I'm not going to sign a contract if I'm not fully ready."

Tom Brady described Bruce Arians as "smart, tough and loyal" after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach stepped down on Wednesday.

The franchise confirmed Arians will no longer lead the team, with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles set to take over.

Arians will not be leaving the Bucs, however, instead taking on a new role of senior football consultant.

The decision comes just over a year after Arians and Brady led Tampa Bay to their second Super Bowl triumph, and the former New England Patriots quarterback wrote a message of gratitude to the 69-year-old, who had spent three years in charge.

"Thank you, BA for all that you have done for me and our team," Brady wrote on Instagram. "You are an incredible man and coach, and it was a privilege to play for you. You are a true NFL legend and pioneer for all the work you have done to make the league more diverse and inclusive. 

"Smart, tough, and loyal are a few of the words to describe your style. I will always remember the conversations we had when you recruited me two years ago and all of the things we discussed came true.

"We all benefited from your leadership and guidance and I'm so proud of everything we accomplished. You were a huge part of the decision to join the Bucs and I'm forever grateful.

"I'm so happy you will spend the much-deserved time with your loving and supportive family that has given so much to our communities. Congratulations on an amazing coaching career but more importantly, how you positively impacted me and everyone else in the game of football."

Brady announced his retirement from the game in February, before sensationally changing his mind the following month, re-signing with the Bucs for the 2022 season.

Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler is returning to the New England Patriots on a two-year deal worth up to $9million.

Butler, 32, famously intercepted would-be go-ahead touchdown pass at the goal-line to give the Patriots a 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

Two years after his Super Bowl heroics, Butler signed a big-money, five-year deal with the Tennessee Titans, who released the cornerback after three seasons.

His unsuccessful stint with the Titans was followed by a brief stay on the Arizona Cardinals' roster, with Butler retiring in August citing "personal reasons" before playing a regular-season game.

He was released by the Cardinals in February, and will now attempt to revive his career under the stewardship of Bill Belichick once again.

Leonard Fournette has become the latest player to re-sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to reports.

After Tom Brady made a sensational U-turn on his decision to retire, Chris Godwin also agreed to a three-year deal worth $60million with the Bucs after being franchise tagged by the team who won Super Bowl LV at the end of the 2020 season.

Fournette is understood to be signing a new three-year deal in Tampa Bay worth $21million, potentially rising to $24m.

The 27-year-old running back reportedly visited the New England Patriots, who had also shown interest in him when he left the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020, on Monday.

However, like then, Fournette looks to have decided on the Bucs, where he enjoyed a productive 2021 season.

His 1,266 total yards from scrimmage ranked sixth in the NFL, as he rushed for 812 yards, caught 69 passes for 454 yards and scored a total of 10 touchdowns.

Fournette's 4.5 yards per carry average last season was a career-high.

His best game of the season came in the 38-31 win at the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12, scoring four TDs, making eight first downs and racking up a total of 131 yards from 24 touches.

Fournette was placed on injured reserve after suffering a hamstring issue following Week 15, but returned for the divisional round defeat to eventual Super Bowl LVI winners, the Los Angeles Rams.

The man nicknamed "Lombardi Lenny", or "Playoff Lenny", had previously put in a 135-yard performance as the Bucs won Super Bowl LV, beating the Kansas City Chiefs.

Chris Godwin has revealed his uncertainty over his Tampa Bay Buccaneers future before a message from Tom Brady helped him decide to re-commit to the side.

Godwin recently agreed to a three-year deal worth $60million with the Bucs after being franchise tagged with the Super Bowl LV champions.

Had the Buccaneers failed to agree a long-term deal with the wide receiver before the July 15 deadline, he would have played under a one-year, $19.18m franchise tender.

Godwin, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury in Week 15 of the 2021-22 season, agreed to the deal after superstar quarterback Brady confirmed he would come out of retirement to keep playing with the Bucs.

"It was a definitely a whirlwind of emotions," Godwin told reporters. "It was a lot of uncertainty at different points and sometimes it leaves you questioning just like why things happen.

"But you can't control what happens to you. You can just control your personal response to it and how you choose to go about it."

He added: "This last week has been a whirlwind for a lot of people. I think it just restores faith in the Bucs' fan base. 'We're back, man, and we're not laying down for nobody. We're coming back to try to make it to the top of the mountain, and you need great players and great people to do that, and obviously Tom coming back was a huge piece."

The 26-year-old wide receiver admitted his decision on his future was crystallised once Brady declared his intentions to come out of retirement and revealed their text exchange in a group chat with the QB and teammate Mike Evans.

Brady wrote: "Yo...just letting y'all know...I'm coming back and I'm excited for another year."

Godwin said: "Me and Mike were so gassed up, like, 'Yo, what are you talking about? You just retired?! It's hard to walk away from the game when you're as dedicated as Tom is."

Though his 2021 campaign was ended prematurely by his ACL injury, Godwin still finished the year with 98 receptions for 1,103 yards - both career highs - and five touchdowns.

According to Stats Perform data, Godwin registered a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted, on 70.4 per cent of his targets.

That ratio was third-best in the NFL among wideouts with at least 100 targets behind team-mate Mike Evans (72.7) and Tyreek Hill (70.8). 

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