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NFL quarterbacks don’t typically miss a long stretch just before the start of the regular season, but Tom Brady is no ordinary quarterback.
The 45-year-old will be out for at least 10 days for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team said Thursday. Bucs officials downplayed the development as there was nothing for fans to worry about and expressed confidence that Brady will be ready to lead Tampa Bay in his Week 1 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 11.
“There aren’t many 45-year-olds playing at the MVP level with seven Super Bowls under their belt,” said General Manager Jason Licht said with a smile at Tampa Station WDAE, “so we’re not worried about that at all.”
Licht added that Brady’s previously unannounced absence, which began Thursday, was already in the works.
“He’s going to take care of some personal things,” coach Todd Bowles told reporters after a practice Thursday. “We talked about that before the training camp started.”
Bowles hinted that Brady, who briefly retired after last season before changing his mind and returning to the Bucs, took advantage of the fact that he would be kept out of Tampa Bay’s first two preseason games. The team hosts the Miami Dolphins on Saturday before traveling to Tennessee on August 20 to play the Titans. Tampa Bay’s preseason ends with an away game at the Indianapolis Colts on August 27 and then meets Dallas on Sunday Night Football. to start the regular season.
Bowles said Brady would return after the Titans game. Meanwhile, the coach said his absence is helping the team’s backup quarterbacks — Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask and Ryan Griffin — gain valuable practice reps.
“We trust him,” Bowles said of Brady in his first season as the Bucs head coach. “We talked about it.”
When asked if the quarterback’s issue was health-related, Bowles said, “It’s a personal issue. That’s all I can tell you.”
Bowes said he has a “fairly high” level of confidence that Brady will actually be below center in Week 1.
Brady’s commitment to the Bucs was questioned in some quarters after it was revealed that despite his contract status with Tampa Bay, he and his agent had improper contact with the Dolphins during and after the 2021 season. The news came amid an NFL investigation that led to penalties for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and his team for violating league policies related to the integrity of the game.
That relationship with Miami, which the NFL also revealed, included improper communications in 2019 and 2020, when Brady was a member of the New England Patriots, continued to hover over the Bucs this week because they spend several days before training against the Dolphins their preseason matchup.
Brady has not spoken to the media about the NFL investigation. After he and Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa were seen chatting on the practice field Wednesday, the Miami starter told reporters he was searching the 22-year-old NFL veteran’s brain for tips on how to pull off such an amazing longevity maintained.
Commenting on his feelings about the Dolphins’ year-long pursuit of Brady – which may not be entirely over – Tagovailoa said on Wednesday: “I’m still here. For me at this point it’s all noise.”
When asked Thursday if he had concerns that Brady’s absence was related to a potentially shaky commitment to the Bucs, Bowles replied, “After our conversation, I’m not worried, no.”
“Obviously we wanted to let him do what he has to do,” Licht said said by Brady in his radio appearance. “He’s focused as always. He’ll come back even more focused.
“That’s the least of our worries. … business as usual here.”