For the first time in eight seasons, the New England Patriots will not play in the AFC Championship Game, and their 20-13 Wild Card Round loss to the Tennessee Titans has prompted questions of whether Tom Brady will retire. However, he has already said that it is "pretty unlikely," and here are five reasons why.
1. He doesn't want his career to end on a pick-six
The Patriots were down 14-13 to the Titans on their own nine-yard line with 15 seconds left in the game. It did not appear that they would be able to come back, but salt was added to the wound when former Patriot Logan Ryan picked off Brady's pass and returned it nine yards for a touchdown. He is too much of a competitor to have his career end on such a dour note.
2. He is still in amazing condition
Brady may be 42, but his health is stellar, thanks in part to his famous "TB12 Method" diet. He also patterns his exercise and sleep around continuing to play and has not suffered the wear and tear of other quarterbacks in the league over his career. When analysts say that Brady can play until he is 50, they are a being a bit hyperbolic... but only just a bit.
3. He is still one of the best quarterbacks in the game
Brady finished 2019 in the top 10 in the NFL in passing yards, attempts, completions, and interception percentage. He once famously said, "When I suck, I'll retire." Well, he still doesn't suck.
4. The Patriots will be competitive if not dominant in 2020
New England started 2019 8-0, and only four other teams finished better than their 12-4 record. While every year brings the "Is this the end of the Patriots dynasty?" questions, that actually happening is highly unlikely. New England led the league in total defense this season and will be a front-runner for the AFC title next season. They will be even more competitive with Brady leading the offense.
5. And he has numerous free agency possibilities
Brady signed a two-year contract extension in August, that not only gave him a raise for 2019 but also covered the next two seasons. However, due to the contract's structure, the final two years (2020, '21) will become void on March 17. Additionally, the contract's verbiage prevents New England from using the franchise or transition tag on Brady, essentially making him a free agent. So should the Patriots choose not to re-sign him or if Brady just wants to a change of scenery, he will not lack for options around the league. Potential landing spots for the future Hall of Famer include the Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, Chicago Bears, and Carolina Panthers.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.