It’s hard to imagine the New England Patriots without Tom Brady. No other player has had this much success over this much time with one franchise.
But it will happen at some point. Brady can become a free agent after this season. The final year on his deal already automatically voided and he can’t be franchise or transition tagged by the Patriots. If Brady wants to play somewhere else in 2020, there’s nothing stopping him.
While it still seems impossible to believe Brady would play somewhere else, it frames Saturday night’s wild-card game against the Tennessee Titans, which can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app, in a different way.
Win or lose, this is very likely to be the last Patriots’ home game this season. And it’s at least possible that would make it Brady’s last home game with New England.
Tom Brady is a New England legend
Think of the Brady era in New England this way: Gillette Stadium is now 18 seasons old, hosting its first NFL game in 2002. At the start of next season, there will be 11 NFL stadiums opened since Gillette’s first game. Brady has been the Patriots’ quarterback since the building opened, with others filling in only for his 2008 ACL injury or 2016 suspension.
It still seems the most likely scenario is that Brady is the Patriots’ quarterback in 2020, maybe because any other scenario is just too difficult to envision. Retirement doesn’t seem to be imminent for Brady, even as he finishes up his age-42 season, though Brady doesn’t talk much about his future at all. That adds to the mystery.
We just don’t know what might happen, and that’s what makes this home playoff game unique. There hasn’t been any level of uncertainty about Brady’s future before. Even if it’s a long shot that Brady goes elsewhere, the chance is higher than ever before.
Patriots face tough test against Titans
That the Patriots are playing at all this weekend is a shock. They haven’t played on wild-card weekend since the end of the 2009 season. They were set for yet another first-round bye when the Miami Dolphins pulled off one of the upsets of the season in Week 17, knocking the Patriots back to the No. 3 seed. It looked like a sign that the dynasty is entering its final days.
Of course, we’ve heard that before. The Patriots are limping into the playoffs but they’re still capable of making a run, because they have Bill Belichick, Brady and a good defense. The Titans have been good since Ryan Tannehill took over at quarterback and will be a popular upset pick. But write off New England at your own risk.
But even if the Patriots go on another run to the Super Bowl, that won’t change the fact this offseason could get complicated. Brady isn’t under contract for 2020, and we don’t know for sure what that means. At very least, Patriots fans should enjoy Saturday’s game a little more than usual. This unbelievable era is going to end some day, and maybe sooner than hoped.
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