If pacts are being created inside Gillette Stadium, I find it hard to believe that Tom Brady is not involved. Reports coming out of Houston the morning of Super Bowl LI confirmed my belief.
Several hours before kickoff on Sunday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport cited sources that said the Patriots believe Brady will play three-to-five more years, and that the team will look to extend him next offseason.
Brady turns 40 in August. He’s signed through the 2019 season, thanks to a two-year extension he signed prior to the 2016 season. If they try for something similar, then another two-year extension before the 2018 season would make sense. That would keep him in New England through 2021, and would give him four more seasons as the Patriots starting quarterback.
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If the team and the player are on the same page — and it seems they are if you believe Rapoport’s report — then it’s no coincidence that Bill Belichick already knows when he’ll be calling it quits.
During Super Bowl week, Patriots owner Robert Kraft told the Washington Post that they both know how much longer Belichick will coach the Patriots.
“He knows and I know,” Kraft told the Post. “But he won’t be done this year.”
Kraft also said that he and Belichick have a “pact” that they don’t talk about it.
My theory on this is simple. If they have a pact, and they both know when Belichick will step away, then Brady has to somehow be involved in that planning.
You don’t just win five Super Bowls with the greatest quarterback of all time, leak that you’ll look to extend him beyond 2019, and not plan your coaching future around that. So if Belichick knows when he’s done, and if Kraft also knows when that is, then my theory is, it must have something to do with Brady’s timetable. And by leaking both of these things last week, the Patriots are letting it be known that Jimmy Garoppolo is available in a trade this offseason.
All of this makes sense. Brady is still playing some of his best football, regardless of his age. Belichick would be a fool to choose right now to part ways with Brady. That wouldn’t make any sense. And Belichick is no fool.
Also, for those who believe Belichick would like to take a few shots at a Super Bowl without Brady, perhaps you don’t listen to him whenever he talks about how Brady’s non-stop preparation keeps him on his toes as a head coach. That doesn’t sound like something that annoys Belichick. I get the sense that he embraces it. Because believe it or not, it is possible for a coach and a quarterback to make each other better at what they do, by challenging each other on a daily basis.
It seems they’ve both embraced that challenge, to the point where they wouldn’t want to have it any other way.
Brady knows he wants to play into his 40s. Belichick and Kraft believe he’s up for the task. They all know that this magical run won’t last forever. So they’re planning to embrace it — together — for as long as they can. And if that’s truly the case, then a pact with the coach must also include the quarterback.
Which is why I expect Belichick and Brady to call it quits at the same time.