Tom Brady on Future with Patriots, Retirement: 'I'm Just Taking It Day by Day'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2019

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) points to Benjamin Watson (84) after a play during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Adam Hunger/Associated Press

For the first time, Tom Brady appears to be acknowledging that playing until his 45th birthday may not happen.

The New England Patriots quarterback addressed his future Wednesday on WEEI's Greg Hill Show, recognizing both a departure from the franchise and retirement are options on the table after this season, via Mike Reiss of ESPN:

"One day I'll wake up and feel like that will be enough. 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. But I don't have to determine those things right now either. That's kind of a good part where I'm at. So I think just taking advantage of the opportunity that I have this year and do the very best I can do. Those decisions come at the more appropriate times."

Brady's contract will void at the end of the 2019 season, potentially making him a free agent for the first time. His deal includes language that prevents the Patriots from using the franchise tag to keep him for the 2020 season. 

That fact, along with Brady and his wife, Gisele Bundchen, placing their Massachusetts home on the market, has led to speculation this will be his last season in New England:

"I think that's the great part for me -- I don't know. I think that's been a unique situation that I've been in," Brady said. [...] 

"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 the contract. For me, it's been good because I'm just taking it day by day and I'm enjoying what I have. I don't know what the future holds, and the great part is, for me, football at this point is all borrowed time. 

"I never expected to play 20 years. I'm playing on a great team. It's just been an incredible 20 years of my life -- to play for Mr. Kraft, and Jonathan, and the Kraft family, and for Coach Belichick, and to have so much success is a dream come true."

Brady has long maintained a desire to play until at least 45. His trainer, Alex Guerrero, speculated the quarterback could play until age 50.

"I know how Tom feels every day," Guerrero told Amos Barshad in Barshad's book, No One Man Should Have All That Power: How Rasputins Manipulate the World (h/t Deadspin). "He says, 'I don’t have any soreness. I'm ready to play again.' Those are things that we thought would happen, and now we're seeing the reality of them happening. Do I think Tom can play to a high level at 45? Absolutely."

Keeping Brady playing at a high level may be the issue. While no one would call him a bad quarterback, the cracks have grown larger at age 42. His downfield success has been almost nonexistent this season, and his 94.8 quarterback rating is his lowest since 2013. ESPN's QBR metric grades Brady at 59.5, which is his lowest in the metric's database but does rank eighth among all quarterbacks.

The decline is more relative to Brady's standard than a cause of true concern, though it is apparent. He has also thrown for zero or one touchdown in three of his last four games, so it's possible the end is closer to Brady's mind than it's been at any midseason point before.

Or he could throw for four touchdowns next week, lead the Patriots to a seventh Super Bowl title, and the world will keep spinning as it always does. Smart money has long been on the latter.