Take a close look at Tom Brady. You won’t see an athlete showing signs of deterioration. He is not the lumbering Willie Mays on the 1973 Mets. He is not stumbling Johnny Unitas on the 1973 Chargers. He most certainly is not the humbling Shaquille O’Neal on the 2010-11 Celtics.
Brady, the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL, is a still a playa as a player. There has been no cognitive slip. His arm strength seems fine. The ambition to win is fully present.
So why would anyone expect Brady to retire at age 42 after 20 years with the Patriots. The thought of it is simply preposterous. If you’ve been listening to him the last few years he’s repeatedly said he plans to play until he’s 45. And that’s three years down the road.
If he looked subpar this season, its only because the Patriots failed him by not providing enough insulation. The receiving corps was substandard, the offensive line particularly porous.
And let’s face it: Do you really think Brady would leave the game with a playoff pick six as his final act?
Well, you can rest easy because Brady used his Instagram account, which is followed by approximately seven million lurkers, to dispel any rumors about impending retirement.
“In both life and football, failure is inevitable,” he wrote. “You don’t always win. You can, however, learn from that failure, pick yourself up with great enthusiasm, and place yourself in the arena again. And that’s right where you will find me. Because I know I still have more to prove.”
Brady really wore himself out on this post. He touched on a lot of topics close to his heart. He saved most of his praise for his fans, a small subsection of which leaned over the railings of Gillette Stadium after Saturday night’s loss to the Titans in hopes of a poignant moment with the GOAT as he ran toward the team’s locker room.
“I just wanted to say to all of our fans, THANK YOU!” Brady said. “After a few days of reflection, I am so grateful and humbled by the unconditional support you have shown me the past two decades. Running out of that tunnel every week is a feeling that is hard to explain. I wish every season ended in a win, but that’s not the nature of sports (or life). Nobody plays to lose. But the reward for working hard is just that, the work!! I have been blessed to find a career I love, teammates who go to battle with me, an organization that believes in me, and fans who have been behind us every step of the way.
“Every one of us that works at Gillette Stadium strived to do their best, spent themselves at a worthy cause, and prepared to fail while daring greatly (h/t Teddy Roosevelt). And for that, we’ve been rewarded with something that the scoreboard won’t show – the satisfaction of knowing we gave everything to each other in pursuit of a common goal. That is what TEAM is all about.”
Brady will play in 2020, and likely beyond, and it won’t be strictly for the money. In August, The Street estimated his net worth at $180 million. And if you believe Forbes, his wife, model Gisele Bundchen, has earned just under $500 million.
Of course, what we don’t know is whether Brady will play for the Patriots. Even though owner Robert Kraft has practically begged Brady not to leave, we haven’t heard – not even a whisper – about an impending deal to keep him in town. And Bill Belichick hasn’t helped matters by refusing to say he absolutely wants Brady back.
What’s it going to cost the Patriots to keep him? Let’s begin at $30 million in 2020 and go from there. Do the Patriots have that kind of cash? They certainly do. And considering their current backup is Jarrett Stidham, you’d think they’d be willing to give Brady the money as opposed to signing an attractive free agent like Teddy Bridgewater or Ryan Tannehill to bridge the transition to a younger player.
If we had to make a guess, and thank you for asking, Brady signs with another team. Maybe the Chargers, if they move away from Philip Rivers. Might the Bears or Titans want him. Is Brady an upgrade over Derek Carr for the Raiders?
What’s clear is, there will be a market for Brady and it will likely be for more than one season. And Brady will return with the intent to redeem himself, to erase the memory of Titans defensive back Logan Ryan ambling into the end zone with his final pass of 2019.