Tom Brady has mused many times about playing well into his 40s. But officially, the 40-year-old Brady hasn’t even decided for sure to play past 40.
That’s the word from Adam Schefter of ESPN, who reports that Brady has not committed to playing the 2018 season. Schefter adds, however, that people close to Brady do expect him to play this year.
That raises the question of what exactly it would mean to “commit to” playing the season anyway. Players rarely announce a formal commitment to playing. It’s generally just assumed that a player under contract to an NFL team is going to play until he announces his retirement.
However, teams have been burned in the past by assuming a star player was going to play. Barry Sanders spent an offseason declining to commit to playing, and then announced his retirement on the eve of training camp in 1999. That caught the Lions off-guard, and made them wish they had prepared for Sanders’ departure better.
Which means the Patriots may need to be prepared for the possibility of Brady announcing his retirement at some point between now and the start of the regular season. And the best way to prepare would be to draft a quarterback next week. The Patriots have two first-round picks and two second-round picks, and if Brady hasn’t told them before draft day that he’s definitely committed to playing this year, they may feel they have no choice but to draft his successor.