Tom Brady, who turns 40 in August, has said that he would like to play in the NFL for several more seasons – perhaps even until 45 and beyond. Whether Brady will do that remains to be seen, but after throwing for 28 touchdowns and two interceptions in 12 games this season, is it implausible to imagine Brady playing until he’s 43 or 44?
“I don’t think so,” recent Hall of Fame inductee Kurt Warner said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I feel like I could go play right now. Now I haven’t been taking hits for the past four or five years, but the difference with guys like myself and Tom Brady is we don’t play the game physically. Yeah, you still have to be able to throw the football, but I don’t think anybody hits this cliff where all of a sudden (you) can’t throw an 18-yard out anymore. If you know how to throw and you have timing, you don’t have to throw it 100 miles an hour. You don’t have to throw it 65, 70 yards down the field, so you play the game with your mind. You play with anticipation and accuracy and seeing defenses, and that’s who Tom Brady is. He’s not going to make you miss in the pocket. He’s not going to out-run you. He’s not going to out-throw you from the standpoint of he’s got to have this cannon arm. He plays mentally – and I believe that guys who play that way have the ability to play a lot longer.”
Of course, it helps that New England’s offense doesn’t ask Brady to do anything he can’t do. It also keeps him upright and injury-free.
“You watch Tom Brady and how they play offense,” Warner said. “What, 70 percent of his throw are within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage or less? They play a brand of football that I think he can play for a long time if they can protect him. If they can keep him healthy so his body doesn’t break down, (he can play for a long time). When I retired at 38, I felt like I was as good as I’ve ever been. My second-last game might have been the greatest game I ever played in my career. So it wasn’t a matter of, ‘Well, I don’t know if I can do it anymore physically.’ I felt like I could, and as I said, I felt like I could now. It was more of the mental side of it and the grind and the expectation that comes with it that got to the point where I was having less fun and having to live more up to the expectation and it wasn’t what I wanted to give every time.
“But yeah, I think it’s very plausible that guys like Drew Brees and Tom Brady – who keep themselves in great shape and play the game inside the pocket with their mind and with their arm – have the ability to play a lot longer,” the 45-year-old Warner continued. “Now I don’t know how long that is, but a lot longer than we’ve seen in the past.”
If Brady plays for three or four or five more seasons, though, that makes Jimmy Garoppolo, in many ways, expendable for New England. The 25-year-old was 43-of-63 (68.3 percent) for 502 yards and four touchdowns in limited action this season but figures to be a hot commodity this offseason.
Is Garoppolo a franchise quarterback? Should teams give up assets to acquire him?
“I think it always depends on what the assets are,” Warner said. “In this day and age, we’ve seen a lot given up for quarterbacks. But I do believe Jimmy Garoppolo has the pieces and the makeup to be one of those guys. I love his release, a quick release, he’s got a good arm, he’s a good athlete. He showed us in those starts that he had this year that he could handle the stage and he could play against some really good teams. So he, to me, is a more known commodity than a lot of these young guys that we have that we’re giving up the farm for. He is a guy that I’m looking (at in) free agency. If I need a quarterback, he’s probably the first guy I’m looking at. But yeah, I do believe Jimmy Garoppolo is one of those rising stars and has a chance to be really, really good.”