For the last 20-plus years, Tom Brady has lived at the top of the NFL landscape. Whether you love him or hate him, it’s impossible to ignore the sheer terror he’s inflicted on the rest of the league. First with the New England Patriots and now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brady has consistently performed like one of the best quarterbacks of all time.
However, with Brady set to turn 45 years old in August, it’s impossible to ignore the likelihood of retirement being in his near future.
Buccaneers OC Byron Leftwich didn’t shut down retirement rumors
Brady has long insisted he wants to play till 50 years old. He’s also playing at an extremely high level right now — the odds of him hanging up the cleats after this year’s postseason concludes feel slim. However, when Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich was asked about the topic, he offered a somewhat cryptic response.
“Tom’s playing at a high level, man,” Leftwich said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Leftwich didn’t exactly do much to shut down potential retirement rumors. If anything, his vague answer only adds further fuel to the Brady-might-retire fire.
To make things even more interesting, former Patriots teammate Rob Ninkovich chimed in a few days ago, saying he does think Brady will retire.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if Tom Brady decided to walk away and do whatever he wants to do,” Ninkovich said via ESPN’s Get Up.
Maybe Leftwich and Ninkovich know something we don’t?
Tom Brady is under contract through 2023 and playing at an MVP-level
On the outside looking in, it seems pretty unlikely that 2022 becomes the year Brady decides to hang up the cleats.
The future Hall of Famer is coming off a 5,000-plus yard season in which he led the league in numerous statistical categories. He also led the Buccaneers to a stress-free playoff win against the Philadelphia Eagles during the Wild Card Round.
Clearly, the guy can still play the game at an extremely high level.
What would it mean for the Buccaneers if Tom Brady does spontaneously retire?
If we decide to put some validity in Leftwich’s and Ninkovich’s comments and go down the rabbit hole just a tad, the Buccaneers could find themselves in some serious trouble if Brady does get the urge to retire this spring.
Brady has long insisted he wants to play in the NFL as long as humanly possible. However, a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams this weekend, for example, could change his thoughts on the matter. Playing in the NFL as a mid-40-year-old gets a lot less fun if you’re not winning.
With all of that said, Brady potentially hanging up the cleats this offseason puts the Buccaneers in a tricky position. They don’t have a good backup on the roster ready to replace #12, and they don’t have enough premium draft capital to orchestrate a trade for a new quarterback.
In addition, several Buccaneers players are presumably only in Tampa Bay because of Brady. Guys like Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette could leave with their quarterback.
Ultimately speaking, it feels like Brady has another few seasons in him. Heck, he might win another Super Bowl this season. However, it’s hard to ignore the smoke surrounding the situation. It might not be this offseason, but eventually, Brady will leave the NFL.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.