At some point, Tom Brady is going to retire — like every other football player before him — and we’ll all probably sit back and realize how much time we wasted speculating about when he’d actually make that decision.
Until that point, however, we’ll continue to sift through all the evidence, direct or indirect, and search for every last clue about the New England Patriots quarterback’s future plans. It’s a weird phenomenon, but Brady is the most successful football player of all time on the most polarizing football team of all time, so here we are.
Which brings us to Wednesday morning. Brady made his weekly radio appearance on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” and once again was asked about his future. The questioning wasn’t completely out of the blue; ESPN’s Adam Schefter earlier this week doubled down on his own feelings that it’s a very real possibility this is Brady’s final season in New England. Brady essentially sidestepped the question, but he certainly didn’t distance himself from the idea, either.
“I think that’s the great part for me: I don’t know,” he said on WEEI. “I think that’s been a unique situation that I’ve been in because I think when you commit to a team for a certain amount of years you kind of feel like your responsibility is to always fulfill your contract. For me, I’m just, it’s been good because I’m taking it day by day and I enjoy what I have. I don’t know what the future holds. The great part for me is football at this point is all borrowed time. I never expected to play 20 years and I’m playing on a great team. It’s just been an incredible 20 years of my life. Just to play for Mr. Kraft, Jonathan, the Kraft family and for Coach Belichick and to have so much success is just a dream come true.
“One day I’ll wake up and I’ll feel like ‘OK, that’ll be enough,’ and when that day comes, that day comes. I don’t know if it will be after this year, I don’t know if it will be five years from now. I don’t have to determine those things now, either. That’s kind of the part where I’m at.”
If you’re hoping Brady follows through on his desire to play until 45, you can’t feel great about hearing that from the 42-year-old legend. Speaking of that desire to play a few more years, Brady has seemingly changed his tune since August. In an interview also aired on WEEI, Brady reconfirmed his hope he’d play until he’s 45.
“Yeah, I do. I certainly hope so,” he said at the time.
Since Brady has been so vague about everything (and it’s hard to blame him for not tipping his hand, especially if he plans on walking away), it has left the entire situation open to speculation, much to the dismay and/or amusement of No. 12. Of course, in that same August interview, Brady also lamented the physical price he must pay to keep his body in tip-top shape at his advanced age.
It’s also worth noting that, for the first time in his career, Brady is in a virtual contract year. He can become a free agent at season’s end, and maybe he’s using his uncertain future as leverage in an attempt to get a bigger deal out of the Patriots down the road. That would be a slight change of pace for Brady, but given how much money he has left on the table throughout his historic career, it’s hard to blame him if he wants to cash in once more before actually walking away.
Regardless, Brady won’t play forever, and the Patriots already have taken steps to build toward the future. New England has built an elite defense that looks like it has some staying power, at least for another couple of years, and the club used some recent draft picks to rebuild the offense moving forward. That includes drafting quarterback Jarrett Stidham in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. There also were whispers in the spring that the Patriots were starting to prepare for life without Brady.
But who knows at this point? It at least sounds like not even Brady himself knows, and given how he has warded off Father Time for this long, would it really surprise anyone if he’s still chucking it around Foxboro in a few years? Probably not.