For the second time in two years, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has announced his retirement. Is it for real this time? That of course will be seen over the next few weeks. However, for the time being, Brady is retired for a second time.
Truly grateful on this day. Thank you ❤️ pic.twitter.com/j2s2sezvSS— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) February 1, 2023
The Los Angeles Rams arguably helped create the legend that is Brady. In 2001, he led his first game-winning drive in a Super Bowl against the Rams. Brady would win a Super Bowl against the Rams again in 2018. He won his last meeting against the Rams this season, leading a comeback drive much like he did over two decades ago.
With Brady retiring and leaving Tampa Bay, it opens things up even more in the NFC. The NFC quarterback picture could look pretty bleak heading into the 2023 season. While the AFC is filled with Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, and Trevor Lawrence, the NFC doesn’t have that vast array of talent at the quarterback position.
You could argue Jalen Hurts is the best quarterback in the NFC right now, and this season is the first year that he’s done it. Hurts has had a good year and is a primary reason why the Philadelphia Eagles are in the Super Bowl. However, he needs to show that this year wasn’t a one-year deal.
That’s especially the case when you consider that Aaron Rodgers could be on his way out of Green Bay. Kyler Murray could miss half of next season as he’ll be recovering from a torn ACL as well.
A lot will change over the coming months. Derek Carr will be traded or released. He may end up in Tampa Bay or even New Orleans. Nobody quite knows what will happen with Lamar Jackson. Justin Fields could of course take that next step in 2023 along with Daniel Jones following a strong 2022 season in his first year with Brian Daboll.
If you had to rank the top-5 quarterbacks in the NFC right now (assuming Rodgers is gone), you’d probably go:
- Jalen Hurts
- Matthew Stafford
- Dak Prescott
- Kirk Cousins
- Geno Smith
There’s still a huge gap between the quarterback in the AFC and quarterbacks in the NFC. Even if Carr comes to the NFC and both Jones and Filed take that next step, they aren’t Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, or Joe Burrow.
Going into next season healthy, you could make a serious argument for Matthew Stafford not only being the most accomplished quarterback in the NFC, but potentially the best quarterback.
That makes a Rams comeback season in 2023 that much more possible than if they were in the AFC. Yes, the NFC West is one of the toughest divisions in football. However, the NFC is wide open heading into next season.
You need a quarterback to compete in the NFL and the Rams have a pretty darn good one in Matthew Stafford. The focus this offseason needs to be getting him protection so that he has a chance to repeat what he did in 2021 during the Rams’ Super Bowl run.
We’ve seen what Matthew Stafford can do when the conditions are right. While it’s unlikely that the Rams build an offensive line as dominant as the one in 2021, if they improve the offensive line play even 50% than it was this season, it will be an extremely improved group in 2023. That should be enough for Stafford to operate.
Tom Brady is out of the picture and while the Rams finished 5-12 in 2022, the NFC looks wide open heading into next season.