What’s Tom Brady Thinking? Trying To Make Sense Of Report About QB’s Future

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom BRady

Photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images

Tom Brady has said (multiple times) he wants to play into his mid-40s, making Wednesday’s report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter perplexing.

Schefter cited sources saying Brady hasn’t (yet) committed to playing in 2018, although most expect him to return. NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran has said similar things this offseason, too.

Let’s be clear: It would be darn surprising if Brady doesn’t play next season.

Despite what some may think, this isn’t a media ploy to take down the Patriots, nor is it an attempt to conjure a story on an otherwise slow day. Schefter and Curran have terrific track records, and if they report something, it’s usually accurate.

There’s a reason this got out, and the ambiguous nature of the report makes it even more likely the source wanted it out there. But why?

Maybe Brady is actually contemplating retirement. More likely, he and his camp want to make the public think the Patriots QB is considering it. Either way, something’s up, and we’re ready to kick around a few theories.

He’s pissed off about the Alex Guerrero situation.
It feels like there are few people in this world (outside of his family) who Brady loves more than his trainer/business partner. So, when Belichick reportedly banished Guerrero from the locker room and team plane, the coach had to know that wasn’t going to sit well with Brady. The QB quietly handled it, but he also didn’t run from the issue, either. That the “Tom vs Time” documentary included a scene of Brady and Guerrero having to go to a Gillette Stadium suite for pregame treatment is no coincidence. It’s understandable if Brady feels like the Patriots owe it to him welcome Guerrero, not only because of how much he’s done in his career but also given how the growing number of converts on the Patriots roster.

He’s had enough of Bill Belichick.
There’s some overlap between this and the Guerrero drama. Brady has served admirably under Belichick for almost 20 years now. That can’t be easy, especially when Brady often is in Belichick’s crosshairs — not because his performance warrants it, but because Belichick likes to prove no one is above criticism. And again, go back to “Tom vs Time.” In the final episode, Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, says her husband just wants to “go to work and feel appreciated and have fun.” Perhaps it’s no coincidence that some of Brady’s closest friends have been allowed to walk in free agency this offseason. Nate Solder and Danny Amendola both explained how difficult it can be to play for Belichick, and it’s certainly possible Brady feels the same way. And don’t forget about the Super Bowl. When you play for the Patriots, you make sacrifices. You deal with the culture because it works. So, when Malcolm Butler doesn’t play a single defensive snap in the Super Bowl — and you lose — it must be hard not to feel like at least some of that sacrifice went for nothing. Maybe Tom Jackson was just 15 years off.

He wants a new contract.
There are 15 NFL quarterbacks who have an average higher salary than Brady, the reigning MVP with five Super Bowl rings. He’s underpaid. It’s simple as that. But he’s been underpaid for pretty much his entire career, and it’s benefited the Patriots’ maneuvering of the salary cap. The Athletic’s Jeff Howe recently reported Brady is open to contract talks, and Howe also pointed out a contract extension would benefit both sides. The quarterback carries a cap hit of $22 million next season, and as Howe writes, “It wouldn’t be overly difficult to reach an agreement that fattens Brady’s wallet and trims his cap charge.” Would Brady really raise a stink over his contract, though? Probably not, but you never know.

He wants to be traded.
OK, OK. Probably not the case.

His family really just wants him around more often, and the feeling is mutual.
Really, the most concrete piece of Schefter’s report is when he says “there are people around him who would rather see him retire.” Gisele has to be one of those people. Brady has said as much in the past, and a former college teammate said Gisele tried to get him to convince Brady to retire. Playing professional football at Brady’s high level isn’t easy, and it gets in the way of a lot of things in life. Again, Brady is on record saying this.

From the “Tom vs Time” finale: “It’s a big commitment, sitting here, laying here, three days after the season getting my Achilles worked on and my thumb. And you, ‘What are we doing this for,’ you know? What are we doing this for? Who are we doing this for? Why are we doing this? You’ve gotta have answers for those questions. They have to be with a lot of conviction. When you lose your conviction, you probably should be doing something else.”

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