Why Tom Brady's ex-Patriots teammate could see QB retiring after season

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Why Tom Brady's ex-Pats teammate could see QB retiring this offseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Tom Brady wouldn't step away at the peak of his powers, would he?

The 44-year-old quarterback just completed one of his best statistical seasons ever and has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers eyeing a second consecutive Super Bowl victory. He's a legitimate MVP candidate and has been a top-five QB since leaving the New England Patriots in March 2020.

But as one of his former teammates points out, Brady's immense success may also be a reason why he considers retirement as early as this offseason.

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"It wouldn't surprise me if Tom Brady decided to walk away (this offseason) and do whatever he wants to do," ex-Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich said Wednesday on ESPN's "Get Up!"

"Right now, Tom is in bonus time. How many 44-year-old quarterbacks have we seen throw for the amount of yards and touchdowns (he has)? He'll be 45 in August. So, at this point right now, what else does he have to prove to anybody? What else does he have to check off the list?"

Ninkovich also noted Brady has several off-field ventures that could demand his attention, including his TB12 Sports business -- which has plans to expand to Los Angeles, Tampa Bay and New York -- and his new "Brady Brand" clothing line.

After winning six Super Bowl titles with the Patriots, Brady had motivation to win a ring elsewhere -- which he accomplished with Tampa Bay last season and could accomplish again this postseason as his Bucs enter the NFC Divisional Round as favorites against the Los Angeles Rams.

Ninkovich, who retired in 2016 after eight seasons as Brady's teammate in Foxboro, could see Brady simply saying "I'm done" after his contract with the Bucs expires this offseason.

"Everything as far as football goes, when you feel content with your career and everything you've done, you can kind of say, 'OK, I'm gonna walk off on my own two feet,'" Ninkovich said.

"Tom playing until he's 50? If he really wants to, sure, OK. But if he doesn't and he decides, 'Hey, I've had enough. I've done everything I want to do. What's my legacy?' What is his legacy? The greatest quarterback of all time. So, it wouldn't shock me."

Brady has said he'll stop playing when he's no longer an effective quarterback, and that's clearly not the case. But he also admitted last summer that his stated goal is to play until age 45, which he'll turn in August. There's also this: The producer of Brady's ESPN docuseries, "Man in the Arena" revealed that the final episode has been pushed back until the spring.

Could that episode come after a Brady retirement announcement? We're not ruling it out.