Tom Brady’s retirement means that America’s most eligible bachelor is no longer the NFL’s most eligible free agent.
Brady’s decision not to play a 24th NFL season leaves one fewer rider for the offseason quarterback carousel, which could send a few teams scrambling and could boost the value of a few other veteran starters.
Here is a look at the ripple effect created Wednesday when Brady, 45, announced that he is “retiring for good” on his second try:
Las Vegas Raiders
You have to wonder if head coach Josh McDaniels so easily moved on from Derek Carr late this season because he expected to reunite with Brady due to their 11-year history as play-caller and quarterback with the Patriots. If McDaniels doesn’t have a good Plan B, forcing out Carr could wind up being a worse move than when he ran off Jay Cutler and wound up starting Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow during his Broncos tenure.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Head coach Todd Bowles wasted his one year with Brady — a gift from predecessor Bruce Arians — and now has a depth chart topped by free agent Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask as he looks to hire a coordinator to replace the fired Byron Leftwich. It makes Bowles’ quarterback options during his Jets tenure sound good.
Tom Brady retired for good on Wednesday.Getty Images
San Francisco 49ers
What a decision the 49ers would’ve faced if Brady wanted to end his career playing for his favorite childhood team. Instead an already tough choice between former No. 2 draft pick Trey Lance and Rookie of the Year finalist Brock Purdy awaits, after head coach Kyle Shanahan ruled out any scenario of re-signing free agent Jimmy Garoppolo.
New York Jets
So long to the pipe dream that Brady might want to play in New York to live near his oldest son and to stick it to the Patriots twice per year. The Jets are planning to sign a veteran quarterback and the market just thinned out.
There now is no question who is the premier prize on the carousel. If Rodgers wants to play another season and stays with the Packers, there is one fewer all-time great in his way of a Super Bowl trip. If he wants to play and the Packers prefer to trade him to an AFC team, as reports indicate, their asking price just went up because of fewer alternatives for short-term suitors in playoffs-or-bust mode.
If McDaniels was counting on his familiarity with Brady to rescue the Raiders, he could pivot to Garoppolo. Same goes for the Patriots, as head coach Bill Belichick would be free to pursue a reunion with the former apple of his eye without owner Robert Kraft preferring Brady over Garoppolo (again).
Just named to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time, Carr has a no-trade clause and a contract bonus that gives him all the leverage if he wants to force the Raiders to cut him rather than trade him. It’s safe to say he just climbed up a spot on many quarterback needy teams’ list of options.
Derek CarrGetty Images
The Falcons’ Desmond Ridder (four starts as a rookie) is the only returning starter under contract in the division. The Panthers’ Sam Darnold, Saints’ Andy Dalton and Gabbert are free agents. So who is the quarterback to beat in the division? Benched former top 2015 draft picks Jameis Winston (Saints) and Marcus Mariota (Falcons), both of whom could be released?
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Look at this lineup of quarterbacks becoming eligible: Eli Manning in 2025, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers in 2026, Ben Roethlisberger in 2027, Brady in 2028 and maybe Rodgers in 2029? Brady’s retirement alone could push Rodgers — who seems to crave the center of attention — to play next season so that he doesn’t get stuck playing second fiddle in Brady’s Hall of Fame class.