Rumors are swirling regarding Tom Brady's future in the NFL. However, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is confident the seven-time Super Bowl champion will return for a third season in Tampa Bay instead of retiring.
Arians told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times:
The way he was at practice [Friday], I would be shocked if he didn’t [play next year]. You know they have that Friday quarterback challenge, and he came flying out of the locker room, sprinting two or three fields away and couldn’t wait to get into the challenge. He was like a little kid. I would be shocked.
Arians' comments come after Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported Saturday that some teammates have a sense the 2022 campaign might be Brady's last. A source told La Canfora it “wouldn’t be surprising” if Brady retired after the playoffs.
La Canfora also cited a Buccaneers source who said there is a “sense among some guys in the locker room” that Brady could be done. However, the source added the speculation could end up being “nothing.”
This isn't the first time retirement talk has come up this week, either. Rob Ninkovich, Brady's former teammate in New England, said on ESPN’s Get Up on Wednesday that it wouldn't surprise him if the veteran quarterback "decided to walk away and do whatever he wants to do" after the season.
Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich subsequently wouldn't shoot down the rumors about Brady potentially calling it quits.
“Tom’s playing at a high level, man. I’ll leave it at that,” Leftwich told reporters Thursday.
While there will always be speculation about the 44-year-old Brady's future, considering his age, he has been open about what lies ahead since he joined the Buccaneers before last season. He has said in the past that he wants to play until he's 45.
“I’ll know when the time’s right,” Brady told NBC Sports' Peter King last summer. “If I can’t … if I’m not a championship-level quarterback, then I’m not gonna play. If I’m a liability to the team, I mean, no way. But if I think I can win a championship, then I’ll play.”
Brady has been anything but a liability this year. He is back in the MVP conversation after leading Tampa Bay to a 13-4 record. He completed 67.5 percent of his passes for 5,316 yards and 43 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. It was just the second time in his career he's thrown for more than 5,000 yards in a season.
The Bucs will face the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in the divisional round in an attempt to get one step closer to their second consecutive title. Given that and his impressive numbers, if Brady does retire, it won't be a performance-based decision.