Questions about Tom Brady’s future intensified Saturday after reports surfaced that he planned to retire after 22 seasons in the N.F.L. His agent declined to put a timetable on such an announcement, or to confirm its veracity.
“Without getting into the accuracy or inaccuracy of what’s being reported, Tom will be the only person to express his plans with complete accuracy,” Don Yee, Brady’s agent, said Saturday in a statement. “He knows the realities of the football business and planning calendar as well as anybody, so that should be soon.”
Brady, who once said that he would retire only when his performance started to decline, this season led the league in passing yards (5,316), completions (485) and touchdowns (43) for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady, 44, and the Buccaneers lost last week in the divisional round of the playoffs to the Los Angeles Rams, after the quarterback nearly led his team to yet another incredible comeback.
Brady is under contract with the Buccaneers through the 2022 season, but would get back $16 million of his signing bonus should he retire.
So many details of his career sound apocryphal. His seven championships are more than any franchise has won. He would retire as the N.F.L.’s career leader in touchdown passes and yardage and victories. He has won the Super Bowl M.V.P. Award five times. Only one other quarterback, John Elway, even started in five Super Bowls.
Brady rose to stardom with the New England Patriots, ascending from a sixth-round draft pick in 2000, No. 199 overall, to the most prominent on-field member of an enduring dynasty. But with the Patriots unwilling to sign him to a long-term contract, Brady in March 2020 bolted for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, leaving the only team and head coach he ever played for, Bill Belichick, for one of the N.F.L.’s least successful franchises.
With the Buccaneers, Brady mastered a new offense, adjusted to new teammates and coaches and dominated the league, all while the coronavirus pandemic restricted in-person contact. He won his seventh title, over Kansas City, last February in the Buccaneers’ home stadium.