If we could pull the levers with cosmic-like certitude, Tom Brady would play one more season in New England. Come what may, he should end his career here and only here.
If it were only that simple.
The season ended Saturday, and the drama/speculation dial is turned to 10. TB12 is a free agent, he’s 42, and his play this season was relatively pedestrian. Unfair as it sounds, there’s a harsh argument to be made for the Pats to file divorce papers. Brady might fancy being the first NFL player eligible for Social Security, but organizations are dutybound to balance short-, mid-, and long-term needs. Guys in their 40s gum up the works.
On the other hand, was Brady so bad this year that the team has to cash out and put “QB1 —To Be Determined” on the depth chart? The Pats don’t have an intriguing back-up, they’re not drafting high enough to pluck a college starlet, and the best free agents are unlikely to leave their current employers.
As the Patriots were bounced from the playoffs by Tennessee last Saturday night, did you think the team’s biggest shortcoming is its QB? We didn’t.
There are rarely easy lines of succession in professional sports, especially when you’re talking about a position as crucial as NFL quarterback. It’s all well and good to boldly proclaim “Next Guy Up” when your wheelman is Tom Brady. When someone of his caliber walks way, the “Next Guy Up” often ends up being one of the first guys out the door.
Maybe you simply trust Bill Belichick to sort it all out. Tom is a legend, but Bill is a genius. Bet on the smart coach, not the aging player. Build a statue for No. 12 and move on.
We’re not buying it. Brady is good enough to be a part of the solution next season.