BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady plans to play football forever. Or so we think.

One ESPN writer — who’s spent a lot of time covering Tom Brady — thinks that the end is much closer for the 44-year-old QB.

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In an article featuring playoff predictions from different ESPN analysts, writers and personalities, Wickersham shared that he’s got a feeling that this playoff run will be the final one for TB12.

“We know that the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger will retire. But I think Tom Brady will, too,” Wickersham said.

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Wickersham couched the claim by saying it’s “just a hunch.” Still, given that Wickerhsam released a 500-plus-page book in October — a book which detailed the Patriots’ dynasty, focused significantly on Brady, and was written after conducting “hundreds of interviews” — the author’s “hunch” is enough to raise an eyebrow or two as the playoffs are set to begin.

Brady, of course, has long declared his desire to at least play to age 45, but possibly longer. At age 44, he stayed healthy for all 17 games, reaching his second-highest single-season touchdown total ever with 43. He led the league in passing touchdowns and passing yards, and his Buccaneers went 13-4, good enough to earn the No. 2 seed in the NFC as they try to become the first repeat Super Bowl champs since Brady and the Patriots did that in 2003 and 2004. He’ll either win the NFL MVP Award or finish second behind Aaron Rodgers.

Last offseason, Brady signed a contract extension with three voided years, essentially working to keep him under the Bucs’ employment through the 2022 season, when he’ll be 45.

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Eventually, Brady will have to stop playing football. And while that date is at least a year off in most people’s minds, Wickersham at least presented the possibility that the end of Brady’s historic career could come as soon as this weekend.

CBSBoston.com Staff