Fans of opposing teams have probably given up on Tom Brady hanging up his cleats anytime soon. The 44-year-old, seven-time Super Bowl champion has made no secret of his desire to play beyond the 2021 season, his last year under contract.
During a recent interview with Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Brady alluded to possibly playing well beyond the 2021 season. Brady, who is entering his 22nd season and second with the Buccaneers, said that he "can still throw the ball like I'm 24."
"Hopefully, I'm here for a long time," Brady said of his future with the Buccaneers, who this season are trying to become the first team since Brady's 2003-04 Patriots teams to win back-to-back titles.
Physically, Brady feels better than he has in over a decade. While playing with a torn MCL last year, Brady underwent daily treatment and taping sessions with longtime trainer Alex Guerrero. The treatment has paid off, as Brady looks to be more mobile in 2021.
"It's good for me to feel like I can move around freely," Brady said. "I had a knee sleeve on for 13 years. Just that little bit of compression keeps a hamstring from working the right way. You try to compress the knee to keep it more stable, but then you're also compressing the quad. This is the first time that I've been able to run and not think about it. I'm not going to turn into Michael Vick out there but at least I'm not going to be super restricted."
Brady won't be Vick, but he will probably run for more yards in 2021 than he did in 2020. While he ran for three scores last season, Brady rushed for a career-low six yards. Brady rushed for 57, 53, 64, 28, 35 and 34 yards and eight combined touchdowns the previous six seasons. He's broken the 100-yard rushing barrier three times, including his career-high 110-yard season way back in 2002. In 2011, when he ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns.
Along with the ability to gain more yards with his legs, Brady should be more elusive in the pocket. That is certainly bad news for opposing defenses, given that Brady's longtime Achilles heel has been defenses that can consistently put pressure on him.
If Brady's final preseason showing is any indication of what he and the Buccaneers' offense will do on Thursday, the Cowboys' defense may be in for a long night. After the Bucs punted on their first drive, Brady dissected the Texans' defense on his next drive to the tune of 7 of 7 passing for 91 yards that included a 24-yard touchdown to Chris Godwin. On Tampa Bay's next possession, Brady engineered an eight-play, 93-yard drive that ended with a 13-yard touchdown run by Ronald Jones II. On the two drives, Brady completed two passes to Godwin, four to Antonio Brown, two to Mike Evans, and one apiece to Jones, Leonard Fournette, and O.J. Howard. He finished the game with 154 yards on 11 of 14 passing.
"Good to get a couple of long drives," Brady said after his team's preseason finale, via Greg Auman of The Athletic. "We really haven't played that much, so to get our feel, get out there and get some rhythm. O-line did a great job in protection, receivers all made plays. It was good to spread the ball around and get into a little flow. Good to score and good to win."
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