After an unprecedented seventh Super Bowl, Tom Brady uttered a terrifying sequence of words; “We’re coming back.” The rest of the NFL world took a sharp inhale of breath when Ann Arbor’s favorite son said that. Brady has no intentions of going anywhere, so that begs the question, how long can Brady carry on playing in the NFL? Its time to take a look.
The Brady Cliff
Many members of the media long peddled the cliff theory regarding Brady. They all said once he hit a certain age, his play would diminish. To an extent, they are correct; Brady isn’t playing to the level of 2007 Brady, although he is still playing at a very high level. That is different from Drew Brees and Peyton Manning as they aged. Brady’s arm velocity isn’t what brought him to the dance, unlike Manning and Brees. As those players’ arm diminished, so did their play. Brady’s famous TB12 method is preserving arm strength. His intended yards of 9.1 was higher than those totals in 2018 and 2019. As the world saw after the Bucs bye week, once Brady adjusted to Bruce Arians, the deep-ball, the big-play offense was back.
Brady’s next-gen passing chart displays enough elite quarterback play to justify his status as a top-five passer. The arm is still clearly elite, his footwork is on point, and his mechanics are fine. If Brady maintains this physical state, he can continue to play at a high level with all the extraordinary weapons around him. That is why the Bucs offensive line play is critical to his longevity. They bullied the Chiefs front in the Super Bowl; as long as Brady gets protected, he should avoid significant injuries. Brees couldn’t do that in New Orleans; he got banged up all season; that clearly impacted him. Protection is a critical component for veteran quarterbacks to succeed. The arm strength is acceptable; as long as it stays consistent, Brady will be ok.
Brady’s Veteran Instincts
Brady’s most incredible skill is his instinct. He is the best pre and post-snap quarterback ever. We see quarterbacks these days who hold onto the ball forever. Brady throws the ball so quickly and accurately that he evades pressure. And his decision making is legendary. So much of quarterback play takes place from the neck up, after 20 years of playing in the NFL; Brady’s knowledge is unrivalled. There isn’t anything that can surprise him. Great quarterbacks beat teams at the point of the snap. Brady’s done that for 20 years better than anyone else.
For all that football is a violent game, it is also very cerebral. Brady’s relentless desire for improvement sees him note every play from every game. Before the Super Bowl, the California native kicked his family out of the house to study up on the Chiefs. How can anyone match that level of determination. It’s even more remarkable considering that Brady’s won everything and made millions from the NFL. Brady will read defences better with all his experience and knowledge than he reads about his drunken boat parties. Tom Brady has the mind of a 43-year-old in the body of a 33-year-old.
So, How Long Can Brady Play For?
Quite simply, for as long as he goddamn wants. For two decades, the other 31 teams tried to send Brady into retirement. They’ve failed. No coach or team can solve the Brady dilemma. He is still in fantastic physical shape. The mental skills are higher than ever; Brady can do what he desires in the NFL. He just did that in 2020. The author of the Tom Brady story is Tom Brady, and the pen still has a ton of ink left in it. The NFL is Tom Brady’s world; we’re just bypassers witnessing greatness. Tom Brady will decide how long he plays for; the scary thing is that he’s not showing any sign of stopping.