Tom Brady signing with the Las Vegas Raiders was reportedly "a lock" prior to his decision to instead join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to tight end Darren Waller.
Waller acknowledged past rumors of Brady planning to sign with the Raiders prior to then-head coach Jon Gruden preventing the agreement at the last minute.
“I’ve heard it from multiple sources that I respect and I’ve been close to,” Waller said via Forbes. “They’re like, ‘Yeah, Brady to the Raiders was a lock.’”
Last August, UFC president and Vegas resident Dana White claimed he helped broker a deal in which the Raiders would have acquired Brady and eventually Rob Gronkowski during the offseason which the two former New England Patriots stars eventually joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. White appeared alongside Gronkowski -- along with the retired tight end's brothers and father -- during the UFC with the Gronks broadcast on ESPN and ESPN+ for UFC 278 on August 20 and was coaxed by the four-time Super Bowl champion to tell the story of the potential deal, which White claimed was squashed by Gruden, who instead stuck with quarterback Derek Carr.
"I worked to put that deal together for Brady and Gronk to come to the Raiders," White said via ESPN. "It was almost a done deal. And at the last minute, Gruden blew the deal up and said that he didn't want him and all hell broke loose, man. It was crazy.
"And Brady was already looking at houses. It wasn't said yet that Gronk was going to be coming. So Las Vegas would have had Brady and Gronk the year that the Bucs won the Super Bowl except Gruden blew the deal up."
Gruden resigned as the Raiders' head coach in October 2021 shortly after a New York Times report revealed that the coach used misogynistic and anti-gay language in numerous emails during a seven-year span beginning in 2011. ESPN Senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that the Raiders planned to pursue Brady ahead of his free agency during the 2020 offseason, but the seven-time Super Bowl champion instead signed with the Buccaneers.
The Raiders were once again rumored to be interested in Brady prior to his retirement announcement earlier this month. The seven-time Super Bowl champion was set to become an unrestricted free agent and Las Vegas had publicly acknowledged its plans to move on from Carr, who was eventually released last week.
Brady is set to become FOX Sports' lead NFL analyst beginning after the conclusion of his playing career, but has publicly stated that he won't start until 2024, taking the next year to spend time with his family and prepare for the job. The San Mateo native is the NFL's all-time passing leader for yards and touchdowns, as well as quarterback wins, among numerous other records.
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