Could Tom Brady retirement be Patriots gain if Bucs go into fire-sale mode?

Could Tom Brady retirement be Patriots gain if Bucs go into fire-sale mode?

A 6-foot-4, 225-pound Domino fell Wednesday and shook up the NFL’s offseason before he even arrived.

There’s no doubt Tom Brady’s retirement will have a ripple effect on the rest of the league as teams seek help and endure the standard annual turnover.

At the very least, one less quarterback will be available for the Raiders, Colts, Texans, Jets, Niners, Commanders, Panthers, Saints and Bucs. But there will be non-quarterback aftershocks of Brady’s retirement hitting Tampa Bay as well.

They’re officially out of win-now mode. And now that the salary cap has been set by the league at $224.8 million, the Bucs know they’re $55 million over the cap.

It’s time to cut.

Perry: Brady’s retirement leaves many teams wondering “What if?”

Who could it be? And could Brady’s former team benefit?

Running back Leonard Fournette could move on, which should be of interest to the Patriots. They were on Fournette as a free agent last offseason before he re-signed to Tampa. He could be released again because the Bucs could save between $3.5 million and $6 million this offseason depending on when he is cut or traded. With Damien Harris ready to hit free agency, maybe Bill Belichick would be interested in nabbing Fournette to pair him with another hard runner in Rhamondre Stevenson forming the kind of one-two punch the Patriots have had in recent times. years.

Old friend Akiem Hicks could also be on the move. The former Patriots defensive lineman — who spent six years with the Bears after playing at Foxboro in 2015 — will be a free agent this offseason, and it’s hard to imagine the Bucs playing for his services given his their ceiling position. But at 33 and after one of the worst seasons of his career, he might deserve a flyer in New England. If he has any juice left, pairing him inside with Christian Barmore (as well as Davon Godchaux and Lawrence Guy), could yield explosive results.

Then there’s the biggest name in the band: Mike Evans.

The 6-foot-5 wide is entering what is essentially the final year of his contract with the Bucs. (He had three void years added to his most recent contract.) Anything Tampa does with him should be considered a designation after June 1 — cut or traded — because the dead money hitting their books before that would be exorbitant. . . But if they can find a business partner and a deal that makes sense, they could create $14.5 million in cap space by shipping it after June 1.

It’s a tricky business to try because the rosters are mostly set at this point in the calendar. The draft has come and gone, so going back on a deal wouldn’t give rookies immediate help. But if the Bucs are desperate enough to try to find a way to free up millions of dollars in cap space, moving on from a veteran receiver when the team is clearly rebuilding itself might make sense.

From the Patriots’ perspective, Evans would immediately become their No. 1 threat in the passing game. He topped the 1,000 receiving yard mark in each of his nine years in the NFL, including a 1,124 yard season in 2022 that included six touchdowns in 15 games.

The Patriots need an upgrade at this very important position. They might need help in the trenches and another big body in their running room.

There’s a chance Brady’s retirement will alter Tampa’s plans in such a way this offseason that reinforcements at each of those locations become available.

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