Tom Brady is going to retire eventually, but he doesn't plan on doing so after the 2018 season.
"I absolutely believe I will [return in 2019]," he said on Westwood One Sports, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. "I know I've talked about it for a long time. I have goals to play not only next year, but beyond that. I'm going to try to do as best I possibly can."
"It will certainly be a challenge," he added, per Reiss. "I don't take any of these things for granted, but I hope I can keep playing, and I hope I can keep playing at a championship level."
The 41-year-old Brady has had an interesting season. While he's led the Patriots to a 10-5 season and has posted solid stats along the way (4,105 yards, 25 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 65.4 completion percentage), his play has been spotty at times.
In recent weeks, Brady has seemed to show signs of regression:
Of course, Brady's resume—five titles, three MVPs, three All-Pro selections, 14 Pro Bowl selections—has earned him the benefit of the doubt. Even a regressed Brady is still an upgrade over many of his peers, and his 89.9 grade from Pro Football Focus is sixth among quarterbacks. The Patriots don't exactly have a clear successor in line to replace him, either.
Plus, Brady hasn't lost the fire for the game.
"I've been able to be in a career for 19 years that I love," he said Wednesday, per Reiss. "I wake up every day excited to go to work...fulfilled...I don't think there's any greater gift in my life than to have that. ... In my heart and soul, I love playing the sport of football."
It's that fire that makes it hard to imagine Brady calling it quits after this season. Perhaps if the Patriots win the Super Bowl, he'll choose to go out on top, but Brady seems likely to play until it's obvious he can no longer do so at a high level.
We haven't reached that point yet. Barring a surprising change of heart, Brady is on track to play at least one more season.