“There aren’t many 45-year-olds playing at an MVP level with seven Super Bowls in their back pocket,” General Manager Jason Licht. said with a smile at Tampa radio station WDAE, “so we’re not worried about that at all.”
Licht added that Brady’s previously unannounced absence, which began Thursday, was in the works.
“He’s going to deal with some personal issues,” Coach Todd Bowles told reporters after practice Thursday. “It’s something we talked about before training camp started.”
Bowles indicated that Brady, who briefly withdrew after last season before changing his mind and coming back to the Bucs, took advantage of the fact that he will be held out of Tampa Bay’s first two preseason games. The team hosts the Miami Dolphins on Saturday before traveling to Tennessee to play the Titans on August 20. Tampa Bay’s preseason slate ends with a road game at the Indianapolis Colts on Aug. 27, then it faces Dallas on “Sunday Night Football” to start the regular season.
Bowles said Brady would be back after the Titans game. In the meantime, the coach said, his absence is helping the team’s backup quarterbacks — Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask and Ryan Griffin — get valuable practice reps.
“We trust him,” Bowles, in his first season as the Bucs’ head coach, said of Brady. “We talked about it.”
Asked if the quarterback’s problem was health-related, Bowles said: “It’s a personal thing. I can tell you that.”
Bowes said he had a “pretty high” level of confidence that Brady would be under center in Week 1.
Brady’s level of commitment to the Bucs has been questioned at times following the revelation that, despite his contract status with Tampa Bay, he and his agent had impermissible contact with the Dolphins during and after the 2021 season. That news came out of an NFL investigation resulting in penalty to the owner of the DolphinsStephen Ross, and his team for violating league policies related to the integrity of the game.
That courtship with Miami, which the NFL also revealed included illegal communication in 2019 and 2020 when Brady was a member of the New England Patriots, continued to hover over the Bucs this week as they spend several days practicing against the Dolphins ahead of their. preseason match.
Brady has not spoken to the media about the NFL investigation. After he and Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa were spotted chatting on the practice field Wednesday, the Miami starter told reporters he was picking the 22-year NFL veteran’s brain for advice on how to sustain such amazing longevity.
As for his feelings on the Dolphins’ years-long pursuit of Brady — which may not be quite over — Tagovailoa said Wednesday: “I’m still here. To me, that’s all noise at this point.”
Bowles, asked Thursday if he had any concerns that Brady’s absence was related to a potentially wavering commitment to the Bucs, replied, “Based on our conversation, I’m not worried, no.”
“Of course, we’ll let him do what he needs to do,” Licht said of Brady in his radio appearance. “He is focused as always. He will come back even more focused. It is the least of our worries. … Business as usual here.”