TAMPA, Fla. — Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said Tuesday that despite reports, quarterback Tom Brady is willing to be named the Miami Dolphins’ minority owner and potentially play for them before he comes out of retirement, he and the seven-time Super Bowl winner hasn’t held any talks about it, nor has he spoken about sealing Brady with a new contract going forward.
“No, we didn’t have those discussions,” said Licht, who has known Brady since 2002 when Licht was the assistant director of player personnel for the New England Patriots. “The only discussions I had with Tom was that he was coming back and we’re looking forward to this year and we’re looking forward to getting started.”
Citing a league source, The Boston Globe reported that Brady was set to join the Dolphins’ front office in a capacity similar to Derek Jeter’s role with the Miami Marlins. Pro Football Talk reported that the Dolphins were ready to announce Brady as a minority owner in the week leading up to the Super Bowl.
The Globe reported that Brian Flores’ lawsuit alleging racial discrimination at the hands of the Dolphins has involved owner Stephen Ross attempting to deliberately lose games and an unnamed “star” quarterback signed to another team standing to manipulate has shattered those dreams, the source said.
But Brady has one season left with the Bucs, so they would have retained his rights if he took a position with the Dolphins.
Coach Bruce Arians, who resigned last month to take up a front office post with the Bucs with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles as the new head coach, said at the NFL Combine that the Bucs would not pick up Brady or any other team should he so choose leaving.
“No. Bad deal,” Arians said, before adding that it would take more than a king’s ransom for a team to snatch Brady away. “Five #1s. Maybe,” said Arians.
Shortly after Arians made those comments, Brady visited Manchester United, also owned by the Glazer family, who own the Buccaneers. He announced his return to the Bucs and began actively recruiting players for Tampa Bay, including former Patriots teammate Logan Ryan and former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage.
Brady hasn’t committed to playing beyond 2022 and would become an unrestricted free agent after this season if he chooses to continue playing, meaning he could sign with any team at that point.
What does Licht think of all the chatter linking Brady to the Dolphins along with reports that Sean Payton has been lured out of retirement to join forces with the 44-year-old South quarterback?
“I’ll make it – gossip, just like you said,” said Licht. “We’re focused on getting our team together here with the draft and we’re all excited, we’re all in step here – Tom, Todd [Bowles]myself, Byron [Leftwich]the whole coaching staff – this season.”
Payton told reporters Tuesday after a charity event at the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic, “I have no idea about the Tampa Bay/Miami Dolphin/Tom Brady rumor.”
Dolphins executive Chris Grier told reporters at the Combine that Miami had asked permission to interview Payton, but the Saints denied the request.
“To my knowledge, an inquiry was made or intermediaries were talking,” Payton said. “I am preparing to do television. I haven’t exercised. … If I had been willing to train this year, I would have stayed in New Orleans. It’s nice to have someone who cares. … Look, our focus with Tom Brady was to hit him, not go for him.”
Arian’s new role with the Bucs has not yet been finalized, but he has attended the team’s draft meetings and will be present with Licht and Bowles in the draft war room. Arians plans to remain in Tampa, and his new role will likely be a full-time one for that first year.
Licht said the coaching change seamlessly shifts Bowles into a larger role, with the team benefiting from a defensive coach’s perspective on offense players.
“The philosophy hasn’t changed,” said Licht. “It’s now just met more with Todd as the head coach – more one-on-ones and also in some group settings. Bruce was still involved. He was still in our meetings. I meet with Bruce regularly and he is. We’ll be there too as we put the finishing touches on our draft. Our philosophy has not changed. We still want to sign really good players.”
ESPN’s Mike Triplet contributed to this report.
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/33767793/tampa-bay-buccaneers-general-manager-jason-licht-says-no-discussions-dolphins-rumors-new-contract-quarterback-tom-brady Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht says “no discussions” about Dolphins rumors or a new contract with quarterback Tom Brady