GOAT calling it quits: Tom Brady retiring after 22 NFL seasons, 7 Super Bowl titles with Patriots, Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady will announce his retirement after 22 seasons, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports' Mike Jones on Saturday.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the announcement.

While other media outlets reported that Brady had not yet told the Bucs he was retiring, the person who spoke with USA TODAY Sports said Brady wanted to share the news himself but was "definitely" retiring.

The news comes less than a week after the Buccaneers were eliminated in the divisional playoff round by the Los Angeles Rams.

Brady, 44, said after the game that he hadn't made a decision on retiring and would talk to his family concerning any decision. 

“I haven’t put a lot of thought into it,” Brady said. “So, you know, we will just take it day by day and kind of see where we are at.”

Don Yee, Brady's agent, did not confirm or deny the news in a statement released Saturday after reports emerged of the quarterback's decision.

"I understand the advance speculation about Tom's future. Without getting into the accuracy or inaccuracy of what's being reported, Tom will be the only person to express his plans with complete accuracy. He knows the realities of the football business and planning calendar as well as anybody, so that should be soon."

This season, Brady, a three-time NFL MVP, set a career high with 5,316 passing yards and led the league with 43 touchdown passes.

Brady hangs up his cleats as the NFL's greatest champion; winning six Super Bowl titles in 20 years with the New England Patriots and another last season with the Buccaneers. He left New England after the 2019 season in one of the most stunning free agency moves in NFL history, splitting with longtime coach Bill Belichick.

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Brady reacts prior to a game in November 2021.

Brady ends his career holding NFL records for the most career touchdown passes (624), passing yards (84,520) and completions (7,263) of any player in history, and his 15 career Pro Bowl nods and five Super Bowl MVP awards stand as all-time bests. His ultimate legacy, however, is likely his winning record, with his seven Super Bowl titles, 243 regular-season wins and 35 postseason wins all unparalleled. 

In 2019, Brady was voted the No. 2 player in NFL history by a panel of USA TODAY Sports columnists, reporters and editors.

A sixth-round pick in the 2000 draft by the Patriots, Brady waited his turn on the bench until he got an opportunity the next season when starter Drew Bledsoe was knocked out by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis. Brady took over and led the Patriots to an upset win in Super Bowl 36 over the St. Louis Rams. 

Brady added to his Super Bowl haul with back-to-back victories in 2003 and 2004. No NFL team has repeated as champions since.

He led the Patriots to a perfect 16-0 regular season in 2007, setting the then-NFL record with 50 passing touchdowns. New England was upset by the New York Giants 17-14 in Super Bowl 42.

Brady led the Patriots to more Super Bowl appearances, losing to the Giants again in Super Bowl 46 before beating the Seattle Seahawks in the 2014 season and the Atlanta Falcons in the 2016 campaign. The Patriots would lose another Super Bowl to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2017 season but won another Lombardi Trophy by defeating the Los Angles Rams in Super Bowl 53.

In 2015, an investigation determined it was "more probable than not" that the Patriots had purposefully deflated footballs for that January's AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts and that Brady was "at least generally aware" of the infractions. Brady was suspended for four games, sparking an extensive legal battle between the NFL and one of its star players. Brady would eventually serve the four-game ban to start the 2016 season after deciding not to press the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan's decision to reject what would be the final appeal.

The Patriots were fined $1 million and were forced to surrender the team's first-round pick in the 2016 draft and fourth-round pick the following year.

Brady had 42 fourth-quarter comebacks and 53 game-winning drives in his career. 

He is the second mainstay quarterback to retire this offseason, as the Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger announced Thursday he would not return in 2022

Brady's decision leaves immediate uncertainty for coach Bruce Arians and the Buccaneers at quarterback. The team selected Kyle Trask out of the University of Florida in the second round of last year's NFL draft, but Blaine Gabbert served as Brady's backup this season. Gabbert, the former first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars who failed to live up to his draft billing, is set to become a free agent this year and has not started a game in the last two seasons under Brady.

Tampa Bay faces additional questions in what could be an offseason of significant change. Wide receiver Chris Godwin, running back Leonard Fournette, center Ryan Jensen, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, cornerback Carlton Davis III and tight end Rob Gronkowski are among the starters who are set to become free agents.

“It’s a reload like it is every year,” Arians said Monday, according to the team’s website. “Our [priority] in free agency will be our guys — see how many that we can get back and then build a team from there. I always look forward to that part of it, and then the draft. Each year is so different and so new. Last year, to get everybody back was amazing. I doubt we can do it all again this year, but we’re sure going to give it our best.”

Gronkowski, the former Patriots standout who came out of retirement to join Brady in Tampa, said this past week he also was contemplating retirement.

"If they're (the NFL) like, 'Rob, you've got to decide right now, right this second if you're playing next year,' I would say no right now. 'It's two days after the season. I would be like, 'No, I'm not playing,'" Gronkowski told TMZ Sports. "You've gotta give it time, you've gotta rest to see how everything goes, to see how everything plays out, how I feel. I just want to heal completely, see where my thoughts are from there ... You really start thinking what you're going to do about three, four, five weeks from now."