There are some things that are best left unsaid, but apparently "I'm back" is not one of them for Tom Brady, who has not verbally committed to playing football in 2018 yet, according to a report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.
It feels a little silly, eight days out from the NFL Draft and four months out from the season, to get lathered up about whether Brady will play for the Patriots in 2018. But he is going to turn 41 years old, he did end the 2017 on a sour note and he did end his documentary in a fashion that might lead people to believe he won't play forever.
Brady was the MVP of the 2017 NFL season, at 40 the oldest MVP in league history. There's a sense the whole thing might have taken a lot out of him.
And there are the reported tensions with Bill Belichick that surfaced during last season and lingered until, well, now. Brady's best target, tight end Rob Gronkowski, is also reportedly frustrated with Belichick and some jokes the coach made before the 2017 season about Gronk using Brady's diet.
However, it is still widely believed that Brady will be playing in 2018 and that he will eventually show up for the Patriots' offseason workouts. He's currently away from the offseason program, something he has also done in 2008, '09 and '10.
One source close to Brady told Schefter his "money would be on Brady playing football for the foreseeable future" but admitted that it's hard to predict anything based on stuff that happens off the field. (Read: Good luck guessing what happens in conversations within the walls of Brady's own home.)
And another source told Schefter that "I believe he's going to be there" but that "things can change."
Remember too: Brady has actually said he's going to be playing next year, having said in a pre-Super Bowl interview that "you're going to see me playing football next year."
It's not hard to harken back to what Brady said at the end of "Tom vs. Time" -- "What are we doing this for? Who are we doing this for? Why are we doing this?"
His answer has always been to secure more Super Bowl titles, and it's impossible to believe he's willing to walk away after losing a title in another close Super Bowl. But anything is possible once that gateway of 40 years old is broken.
For the Patriots, it's apparently next man up, with Schefter reporting that, "New England is carrying on without him" and that their approach to the position would "not radically change."
That seems insane, right? Except it makes sense -- the Patriots are going to draft a quarterback this year. It's a given. The question is when they decide to pull the trigger. And if they had to trot out Brian Hoyer in 2018, well, so be it. They've won with Matt Cassel and they won when Brady was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season.
Brady walking away after the draft would be something else, though. A decision to retire this offseason could have better been made before the Patriots giving Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers in a trade. It might make things a little bit bitter, which is sometimes how the NFL goes.
At the end of the day, bank on Brady playing. But just know he hasn't confirmed anything yet, which is a fun little limbo for Patriots fans to live in this offseason.