Here's Why Tom Brady Hasn't Signed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Yet

So long impossible to decipher, Tom Brady's future has been the worst-kept secret in world sport over the last two days.

On Tuesday, the six-time Super Bowl champion announced on Instagram he would leave the New England Patriots after two stellar decades to continue his "football journey elsewhere".

Shortly after the announcement, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported Brady had agreed terms with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over a two-year deal, worth at least $30 million per season. While a number of trades and signings were confirmed over the last two days, Wednesday's official opening of the free agency came and went without any official confirmation over Brady's future.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Wednesday night that Brady and Tampa Bay were "still trying to finalise contract language" and that "contract language is more challenging this offseason that [at] any time in recent memory."

Bucs fans, however, can rest easy. Brady hasn't changed his mind and the reason the franchise hasn't formally announced the signing can be blamed, at least in part, on the coronavirus outbreak that is paralyzing the world.

Earlier this week, the NFL's Management Council sent a memo to all 32 franchise teams explaining that under the new collective bargaining agreement, which was ratified over the weekend, contracts may be conditioned to a physical exam.

The exam, however, will be provided by a "local, neutral physician". Owning to the travel restrictions put in place in the U.S. to stem the spread of coronavirus, that means the physical may be carried out in the player's home city or a nearby location, as opposed to having the player flying to team's training facility to have the exam carried out by doctors who have ongoing relationship with the teams.

"The Management Council is working on developing a list of potential neutral physicians that may be willing to conduct such examinations," the memo states, as per Pro Football Talk.

Players are entitled to decline the neutral physical just as the 32 franchises can hold off on signing a player until he undergoes the exam.

On Thursday, Brady appeared to move a step closer to officially signing with the Bucs after agreeing to undergo a physical in New York, as per ESPN's Jeff Darlington.

The 42-year-old isn't the only player to find himself in this precarious situation, with a number of free agents stuck in a similar limbo.

Bar a major surprise, however, Brady should officially be confirmed as the Bucs next quarterback before the end of the week. Tampa Bay had planned its course through free agency to perfection, but not even Bruce Arians could account for a global pandemic.

In two decades with the Patriots, Brady appeared in nine Super Bowls, hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy a record six times and being named Super Bowl MVP four times.

In his two decades in Foxborough—the longest any NFL quarterback has spent with the same franchise—Brady won an all-time record 17 division championships—Peyton Manning is second with 12—and set a total of 15 Super Bowl records.

His final act as a Patriot, however, was an intercepted pass in the 20-13 home defeat against the Tennessee Titans in last season's AFC Divisional Round.

Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on during the the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium on January 4 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Maddie Meyer/Getty
Here's Why Tom Brady Hasn't Signed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Yet | Sports