Reports: Brady noncommittal about playing beyond this season


For years, Tom Brady has stated his desire to play until he's 45.

With his milestone birthday fast approaching, whispers of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback hanging it up just before that are growing louder.

Days after his former New England Patriots teammate, Rob Ninkovich, said that he wouldn't be surprised if Brady walked away following the 2021 season, multiple reports surfaced from both ESPN and NFL Media on Sunday that retirement is at the very least a possibility for the seven-time Super Bowl champion.

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"Although Brady could decide to play again -- he has talked about playing until he was 45, and even beyond -- it is far from a given," Jeff Darlington and Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Sunday.

Brady, 44, is under contract with the Buccaneers through the 2022 season for $25 million. However, if he were to retire, Tampa Bay would get back $16 million of Brady's signing bonus.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported that he was told by a person close to Brady that at the end of the year, the quarterback will put his emotions aside, let them pass, then make a decision about whether he wants to return.

Brady told another former Patriots teammate, Willie McGinest, last week on NFL Network that he'll "see how it goes" when it comes to playing another season.

"I felt like then that was a great goal to set and I still have that goal of wanting to get to 45," Brady told McGinest. "We'll see how it goes. I think I'm pretty much in [uncharted] territory."

Brady, who turns 45 on Aug. 3, has already outlasted every player from his own draft class in 2000, as well as every player drafted in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

The Bucs host the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday with a chance to return to the NFC Championship Game for the second time in as many seasons with Brady at the helm. Prior to his arrival, Tampa Bay had advanced to only three NFC Championship Games in 44 seasons.

Brady led the league in both passing yards (5,316) and passing touchdowns (43) in 2021, the second time in his career he's led the NFL in both categories in the same season (2007).

ESPN reported that Brady will take "a month or longer" after the season ends, to "assess how he feels physically and mentally while also gauging his family's desires."

The only other quarterback on the Tampa Bay roster under contract for next season is Kyle Trask, a second-round pick of the team out of Florida in 2020.

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