Buccaneers ‘would have turned every stone’ for a QB if Tom Brady had stayed retired

In the space of two weeks, Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson and Matt Ryan were traded from their respective teams for a clear difference of a dozen draft picks. It was March quarterback madness.

For Bruce Arians, Tom Brady has always been the apple of his eye. But if the GOAT were to stay retired, the Buccaneers were ready to go all-in to acquire another starter.

The process, in fact, had already begun.

“We had started to uncover as many rocks as possible,” Arians told NFL Network’s Steve Wyche during an interview at the league’s annual meeting. “We would have turned every stone. … Jason made his calls. We were in the middle of it all when Tom decided to come back and thank God we were able to say, ‘No thanks bro. We’re out of this one.'”

With Brady, of course, the Bucs couldn’t be more in contention for the title. The 15-time Pro Bowler is coming off one of his best seasons, finishing second in MVP voting. He’s also surely miffed with how his team ended last season, rallying 24 points from the Rams in the NFC Divisional Round only to lose on a basket at the buzzer.

The way Brady played during the season and how he felt afterwards left his coach hoping he would change his mind. Forty days after announcing he had retired, Brady was officially back.

“The way he played last year, maybe his best year,” Arians said. “There’s no downside – Week 16, playoffs, he was on fire. And there’s not going to be a downside this year. Coming after the season, I said, ‘Tom, how do you feel- you? He said: “It’s the best physique I’ve felt in years after one season.” So I say, ‘Okay, we’ll keep that light on for sure, bro.'”

While many in the league never believed Brady was truly over, rumors surfaced that a rift had emerged between him and the Arians, including reports that the 44-year-old was looking to play elsewhere in 2022. The mere mention of all this makes the Arians laugh. .

“I have no idea where it came from,” he said. “Somebody has to write a story every day about something. Tom and I have a great relationship. Even in retirement: ‘Where are you?’ “I’m in Italy.” ‘How are you?’ “I have the kids here. I can’t get him back on the golf course because he travels too much, so I can’t make enough money from him.”

In fact, Brady’s return to Tampa Bay prompted those of cornerback Carlton Davis and center Ryan Jensen, and influenced the addition of wide Russell Gage, guard Shaq Mason and defensive back Logan Ryan. With their seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, the Bucs again have only one goal for the coming season.

“They know what Tom brings and we had a chance for another ring. And that’s it. That’s the bottom line,” Arians said. “It’s all about the ring again. Not reloading, not seeing who’s going to do this, who’s going to do that, how we’re going to fit this guy in. Everyone knows their role again right now. …

“The smile really hasn’t gone off my face. I drink too much, but other than that it’s a constant party. It was huge for us to have Tom back.”

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