The New England Patriots were ousted from the postseason on Wild Card Weekend thanks to a 20-13 upset win by the Tennessee Titans, which means that this franchise has to face a very important question earlier than they'd like to. What will happen with Tom Brady?
The longtime quarterback in New England is a free agent this offseason, and rumors have been swirling over the last calendar year about what he wants to do. It's always possible that the 42-year-old could retire, or he could re-up for another season or two. The fear, however, is that Brady leaves to finish his incredible career with another team.
Before Saturday's loss to the Titans, Patriots owner Robert Kraft told Peter King of NBC's Football Morning in America that he understood anything could happen this offseason -- but there is one thing he hopes does not come to fruition.
"Before the season started, it was very important to Tom that he be free to do whatever he wanted at the end of the year," Kraft said. "You know what I said to myself? That any person who plays 20 years for this team and helps us get to six Super Bowls, and been really selfless, has earned that right. I love the young man like he's part of my family. Blood family. Anyone who's done that has earned the right to control his future after 20 years."
"And you know, my hope and prayer is number one, he play for the Patriots. Or number two, he retires. He has the freedom to decide what he wants to do and what's in his own best personal interest."
The six-time Super Bowl champion threw for 4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season. His 60.8 percent completion rate was the lowest in six seasons, and New England's offense struggled mightily at times. The running game wasn't as effective as it was last year, the young wide receivers were inconsistent and Robert Gronkowski was surely missed. While Brady's arm may not be what it once was, it's clear that he still has some football left in him.
In October, CBS NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported that if Brady would leave New England, to Los Angeles Chargers. Whether he re-signs, retires or leaves, this offseason is going to be interesting for the Patriots.