Updated February 1, 2023 - 7:06 pm
The Raiders always knew any path leading to Tom Brady included potential potholes.
From the hassle of moving his family across the country to competition from other teams to the possibility of the 45-year-old retiring, the Raiders were realistic in their hopes of bringing the seven-time Super Bowl champion to Las Vegas.
So while Brady was absolutely at the top of their wish list to replace Derek Carr as their quarterback, they weren’t necessarily surprised Wednesday when he announced his retirement, exactly one year after first saying his playing days were over before changing his mind about six weeks later.
But unlike last winter, Brady, the NFL’s career leader in yards passing (89,214) and touchdowns (649), said this decision was final.
“Good morning guys. I’ll get to the point right away,” Brady said on a video he posted on social media. “I’m retiring. For good.
Truly grateful on this day. Thank you 🙏🏻❤️ pic.twitter.com/j2s2sezvSS
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) February 1, 2023
“I know the process was a pretty big deal last time, so when I woke up this morning, I figured I’d just press record and let you guys know first. I won’t be long-winded. You only get one super emotional retirement essay, and I used mine up last year.”
With the Raiders’ top target out of the equation, it raises the question of where they go from here. Here are some options:
The Packers’ star seems to have one foot out the door in Green Bay again, and the Raiders make a lot of sense as a landing spot.
A ready-made offense is in place that includes his former Packers teammate, wide receiver Davante Adams. The Raiders have an opening at quarterback, and the bright lights of Las Vegas offer the illumination and stage Rodgers craves.
Perfect fit, right?
Maybe. But there are reasons to pump the brakes on a Rodgers-Adams reunion.
Rodgers is owed $59.5 million for 2023, and while money isn’t an issue, doing so would cut into the Raiders’ ability to fill the other holes on their roster. Those holes start on defense, where the Raiders need a major overhaul outside of superstar edge rusher Maxx Crosby and a few promising younger players.
Also, Rodgers, 39, has been on a year-to-year basis regarding his commitment, so there are no guarantees he would be in Las Vegas beyond 2023. Plus, he would bring some drama with him.
The Raiders will take all this into account, but the sense is they would rather allocate that money in ways that legitimately address roster issues that have gone unattended for far too long.
Brady’s retirement vaults Garoppolo to the top of the list among free-agent quarterbacks. That means the competition for him just got more pronounced, and his price tag will reflect that.
The Raiders will inquire about Garoppolo, who played for Josh McDaniels in New England for three years. But between the years and financial commitment it might take to sign him, they might decide they are better off going with a younger, less expensive option.
Going the rookie route
The Raiders have the seventh pick in April’s draft, and while it might leave them out of reach of the top three prospects — Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Will Levis — they are well positioned to move up.
It’s an option under consideration, but it requires the Raiders to be completely sold on the player to invest the assets it would take to get him.
The Raiders will spend the next two months making that determination. If they decide it’s worth it, they will proceed accordingly. But in an otherwise deep positional draft, they won’t force the issue and squander a chance at a potentially great prospect at another position.
One player to keep an eye on is Florida’s Anthony Richardson, whose ceiling might be the highest of any quarterback in the draft but who will need time to reach it.
Jarrett Stidham/ rookie prospect
This is a viable approach, as the financial investment in Stidham, who will be a free agent, and a rookie quarterback would leave plenty of money to address other roster needs.
Stidham showed in the past two games that he can play in the NFL. The only question is can he do it over a full season? The Raiders could add a development quarterback behind him — Richardson, perhaps? — in the hope that one is capable of being the long-term answer.
It makes sense that some people would wonder if the news of Brady’s retirement means the Raiders turning back to Carr. But that would be a mistake.
The Raiders’ decision to move on from Carr was independent of Brady or any other replacement option. They believe they need a change at quarterback, and whether their long-term solution arrives in 2023 or later, they are moving forward with that process.