Tom Brady has done it again! Arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play in the NFL has announced his retirement from football. Last time he came back. Does he have another return in him? Fool me once… While there’s a ton to talk about in the real NFL regarding Brady’s second departure, you know we’ll have you covered from a fantasy football perspective. This is certainly a situation that will play out over the course of the offseason. For now, here’s Andrew Erickson’s rapid reaction to the news of Tom Brady‘s retirement.
Fantasy Football Impact: Tom Brady Retires from NFL
After 23 seasons, Tom Brady has finally decided to retire “for good.” Now, we’ve seen Brady come out of retirement once already, so don’t be surprised if this actually isn’t the end for the GOAT. But I think it’s at least safe to say that he is all but finished in Tampa Bay (he’s currently a free agent) and that has massive fantasy implications for the team’s vast array of offensive weapons.
Impact on Buccaneers’ Offense: Running Backs
I think it might mark the end of Leonard Fournette with the Buccaneers pressed up versus the salary cap. Tampa Bay has a potential out in Fournette’s contract in 2023 should they choose to save money. They rank 31st in available salary cap space. Brady was pretty vocal about supporting Fournette through all his ups-and-downs during his Buccaneers’ tenure, so TB12’s departure could be followed shortly by an ending for Playoff Lenny.
With Fournette out, Rachaad White would become the entrenched starter entering the season. White saw his role grow during the second half of the season, forcing a timeshare with Fournette. From Weeks 10-17, White operated as the 1A in the Buccaneers’ backfield averaging 11 fantasy points per game (RB26). He wasn’t great as a rusher – four yards per carry, 66.4 PFF rushing grade – but no running back was particularly efficient behind Tampa’s patchwork offensive line. The first-year rusher was still better than Fournette on the ground, as the veteran finished third-to-last in rushing EPA (-39.13). And there was no better display of White edging out Fournette on the field than in the first round of the NFL playoffs. Fournette carried the ball just five times for 11 yards while White started and rushed for 41 yards on 7 carries, adding 4-of-6 targets for 36 yards (56% snap share). White’s superior season and proficiency as a receiver (50 receptions, 11th among all RBs) should solidify him as the RB1 moving forward.
Impact on Buccaneers’ Offense: Receivers
As for the wide receivers and tight ends, Brady’s retirement is going to hurt their fantasy upside from a volume perspective. Since Brady landed in Tampa, no team was more pass-heavy. Brady just broke the record for passing attempts in a season this past year (733) after posting the 3rd-most attempts all-time (719) the year before.
Whatever quarterback/offensive coordinator pairing lands in Tampa for 2023 is going to throw less. Because they literally can’t throw more.
The downtick in passing volume will hurt the fantasy values of Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Russell Gage, as the top-3 projected WRs on the Bucs’ roster. Godwin should remain in the fantasy WR2 conversation regardless of who the quarterback is in Tampa Bay, as his role in the slot won’t change. He still will be the favorite to lead the team in targets and will be another year removed from his ACL injury.
Evans will be entering the final year of his deal and is much more concerning. Before his Week 17 eruption, he was WR26 overall and WR32 in points per game. He will be 30 by the time the season starts. History has not been kind to the aging big-bodied wide receivers that don’t win with separation later in their careers.
Impact on Buccaneers’ Offense: Quarterbacks
Worth mentioning that Blaine Gabbert is also a free agent, which leaves just Kyle Trask as their only in-house option at quarterback. They will likely be connected to several free agent QBs during this offseason along with being pegged as a team to draft someone. Sam Darnold has ties back to head coach Todd Bowles from his days with the New York Jets and is currently a free agent.