NFL executives reportedly believe Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady remains one of the league's best players heading into his age-45 season.
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported Tuesday that front-office personnel responded with a "resounding yes" when asked whether Brady is still a top-20 NFL player.
"The guy should have won the MVP last year," an NFC exec told Fowler. "That says it all. To me, he remains a top player until he can't produce at a high level anymore."
Brady finished second in MVP voting last season behind Green Bay Packers counterpart Aaron Rodgers.
The Bucs superstar's continued strong play, which included leading the NFL in both passing yards (5,316) and touchdowns (43), was one of the major reasons it was such a surprise when he announced his retirement in February. He returned just 40 days later.
This month, Brady stepped away from the franchise for 11 days of training camp in order to handle some private matters.
"It's all personal. Everyone's got different situations they're dealing with," he told reporters. "We all have really unique challenges to our life. I'm 45 years old, man. There's a lot of s--t going on. Just gotta try to figure out life the best you can. It's a continuous process."
Now Brady, who ranked No. 1 in NFL Network's annual Top 100 players countdown as voted on by NFL players, is back with the team preparing for the regular season.
While the Buccaneers have dealt with injuries to their offensive line and receiving corps, including Chris Godwin and Russell Gage, they still have one of the most talented offenses on paper. Receiver Julio Jones headlined the offseason additions.
There's no reason to believe Brady should suffer from a significant drop-off in 2022, and playing in the weaker NFC should present Tampa Bay with a golden opportunity to make another deep playoff run after winning the Super Bowl two years ago.
Brady is seeking his eighth Super Bowl title. No other player in NFL history has won more than five.