New England Patriots

Rumblings of an allegedly wavering commitment to the sport he’s dominated for almost two decades may have grabbed summertime headlines, but Patriots quarterback Tom Brady says he’s still thinking long-term with his career.

Even if his current situation requires that Brady remain in the moment for the 2018 Patriots.

“I think you always have short-term goals and long-term goals and this year’s the one I’m focused on,” the 41-year-old Brady said after Tuesday’s practice behind Gillette Stadium. “[But] obviously I want to play for a long time, so I’ve said that for a while. Feel like I’m a broken record. You know, it’s really this year is the focus and this team.”

That ‘broken record’ feeling for Brady has come in an offseason of heavy New England turnover on the offensive side of things, and with Brady’s hit-or-miss presence (he did not participate in anything that was not mandatory this offseason) hovering over the team at various points this summer. But those worries about Brady changing his mind on that long-discussed plan of playing until he’s 45 years old are not exactly unfounded. The ‘concerns’ that Brady was bailing on the Patriots before ‘a long time’ came were first brought to light with people reading into Brady’s language in the Facebook Watch series ‘Tom vs. Time,’ became a full-on panic when considering the fact that the Patriots traded heir apparent Jimmy Garoppolo last season, and were at the forefront of an unusually vocal offseason in Foxboro.

Not even Brady’s agent, Don Yee, could settle everybody down earlier this spring when talking about Brady’s future.

“Tom’s intentions have not changed,” Yee told ESPN’s Adam Schefter in April. “He’s consistently said he’ll play beyond this contract and into his mid-40s, or until he feels he isn’t playing at a championship level. I understand the constant speculation, but this is one point he’s been firm about.”

Since this frenzy, the Patriots have altered Brady’s contract to pay him closer towards his market value, and remain as committed to Brady as their quarterback as they have at any point throughout his historically good run in New England.

And with an offense that’s taken a hit in terms of its personnel — the Pats moved on from wideouts Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, and running back Dion Lewis this offseason, and free agent addition Jordan Matthews failed to make it out of training camp — Brady knows that the Patriots are going to need him to take his game to an even higher level this season.

Offered Brady: “This team needs a great quarterback and you know, hopefully I can go out and be that.”

Beyond just this year, too, if Brady remains true to the goal he’s openly set — and confirmed — for himself.