By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Tom Brady is going to become a free agent at the start of the 2020 league year. But that doesn't necessarily mean he would leave the Patriots and play elsewhere. Could it mean the 42-year-old leaves the National Football League for good?
Brady temporarily put the brakes on retirement talk in his postgame press conference after the Patriots lost to the Titans in the wild card round on Saturday. For the first time in his career the quarterback's future is uncertain due to his impending free agency. Though he could always re-sign with the Patriots, it now appears more likely that he's going to play next season regardless of what uniform he wears.
"I would say it’s pretty unlikely, but – yeah, hopefully unlikely," Brady said on retirement.
Unsurprisingly, Brady wouldn't give any firm answers on anything regarding his future. But it's now a topic that needs to be on the table now that the season is over and he will be without a team when the league year begins on March 18.
"I love the Patriots. I mean, they obviously – this is the greatest organization, and playing for Mr. [Robert] Kraft all these years and for coach [Bill] Belichick – there’s nobody that’s had a better career, I would say, than me, just being with them," said Brady. "So, I’m very blessed and I don’t know what the future looks like and I’m not going to predict it. So, I wish we would have won tonight and wish we would have done a lot of things better over the course of the season, but we just didn’t get the job done."
Brady's not alone. The future is uncertain for other veteran pending free agents like Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater, Jamie Collins, and Kyle Van Noy. Tight end Ben Watson told reporters he "definitely won't be back here next year and probably won't be playing at all."
But of course, with this team, the offseason will mostly revolve around Brady and what he decides. If he intends to keep playing, he'll have an opportunity to see what's out there for opportunities in free agency. The Patriots aren't likely to hand him a new contract without that happening first. There have been many signs that Brady is softly cutting his ties with New England, including selling his primary home and significantly reducing his role in the Best Buddies charity organization.
There's plenty of time to report and speculate on what's going to happen with Brady now. And it may end up that he's back here for another go-around anyway. But what appears certain at this point is NFL fans haven't seen the last of Brady.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].