When Tom Brady announced he was stepping away from the NFL, there’s been lingering speculation that the quarterback would make a comeback. The actual chances that Brady could play in 2022 for a team other than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, however, are extremely slim.

Brady left the Buccaneers with one year left on his contract. That means Brady wouldn’t be allowed to sign with another team unless he were released by Tampa Bay or the Bucs received compensation for the quarterback.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine Tuesday that Tampa Bay wouldn’t let Brady play for another team next season.

"Nope," Arians said. "Bad business."

When asked what it would take for the Bucs to let Brady play elsewhere, Arians joked that Tampa Bay might need five first-round draft picks in return.

Brady never used the word “retire” when he said that he was done playing football. When asked about an eventual return, Brady hasn’t ruled out the possibility of making a comeback.

Arians did note that the Bucs would love for Brady to come back as their starting quarterback in 2022.

"That door is never closed," Arians said. "Whenever Tom wants to come back, he's back. If Tom wants to come back, we'll have plenty of money for him."

Without Brady, Tampa Bay has a major hole to fill for 2022. The quarterback led the Bucs to a Super Bowl championship in 2021 and a trip to this year’s divisional playoffs.

Career backup Blaine Gabbert and second-round pick Kyle Trask are the other quarterbacks on Tampa Bay’s roster.

The addition of Brady could turn most teams into an instant Super Bowl contender. The quarterback finished second in the latest MVP race. Brady led the league with 5,316 passing yards and 43 touchdowns.

Since the 2003 season, Brady has never missed the playoffs when starting more than one game.

Tom Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl in his first season after leaving New England
Tom Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl in his first season after leaving New England GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA via AFP / Michael Reaves