By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots season came to an end Saturday night with a disappointing Wild-Card loss to the Titans. The focus now shifts to Tom Brady’s future.
Following Saturday’s defeat, Brady said it was “pretty unlikely” that he’ll call it a career this offseason. And who can blame him? If Brady walks away, the final pass of his career will go down as a pick-six. That’s no way for a Hall of Fame career to come to an end.
So now the question shifts to if Brady will be back in a Patriots uniform, or if he’ll wear some new laundry as he tries to fulfill his promise of playing until he’s 45. The 42-year-old will become a free agent for the first time in his career on March 18, and like everyone else in the world’s population, he doesn’t really know what will happen after that.
“Who knows what the future holds, so we’ll leave it on that,” Brady said following Saturday’s loss.
But Brady did not leave it at that. He doesn’t have a crystal ball that will tell him all the answers, but he made it clear that he loves being a Patriot.
“It’s the greatest organization and playing for Mr. Kraft and for Coach Belichick all these years, there is nobody who has had a better career than me, just being with them,” he said. “I’ve loved playing for this team for two decades and winning a lot of games. Again, I just don’t know what it looks like moving forward. I’ll just take it day by day.”
We’ll see what Bill Belchick thinks Brady is worth in the next few months. Brady remains New England’s best options, and New England remains Brady’s best option. But as always with the Patriots, it is going to come down to price. Even for a man responsible for the six Super Bowl banners that hang in Foxboro.
Brady completed 20 of his 37 passes for 209 yards against the Titans, throwing no touchdowns and that pick-six at the end of the game. New England scored 10 points on their first two drives, but managed just a field goal the rest of the way. They were shut out in the second half.
The opportunity was there for another vintage Brady comeback, when he got the ball back with 4:44 to play, all three timeouts and his team down 14-13. Brady hit James White with a short pass, which the running back turned into a 20-yard pickup, and then Phillip Dorsett for a six-yard pickup on the ensuing first down. But after a crushing drop by Julian Edelman and an errant pass to Dorsett, the Patriots punted for the fifth time of the evening.
Brady threw one more pass on the night, which was picked off by former teammate Logan Ryan, who high-stepped into the end zone to seal the Tennessee victory.
Will that be the last image of Tom Brady in a Patriots uniform? Only time will tell. But the Brady watch is now underway, much earlier than anyone expected.