- The New England Patriots lost 20-13 to the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card on Saturday.
- With the loss comes the possible end of Tom Brady’s tenure with the Patriots, as he is set to hit free agency for the first time in his career this offseason.
- Rumors have persisted all season that Brady and the Patriots could split ways this year, and a lackluster finish to the season may have been the nail in the coffin.
- Ultimately, even Brady and the Patriots may not have the answers yet.
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Is Tom Brady’s time over with the New England Patriots?
It may be after the Patriots’ 20-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Saturday in the AFC Wild Card.
Brady, 42, is set to become a true free agent for the first time this March. The legendary QB and the Patriots negotiated a long-term extension this past summer but ultimately agreed on a one-year raise for 2019 that lets Brady hit the open market, avoiding the possibility of being hit with the franchise tag.
All year, rumors have persisted that the two sides could split ways at the end of the season.
In October, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said he thought it was more likely than not that Brady is not on the Patriots for the 2020 season.
“He’s either staying in New England, he’s retiring, or he’s going to play somewhere else,” Schefter said. “I would think of those three that staying in New England, to me, would seem like the least likely option of the three.”
Speculation has been fueled by Brady and his trainer and business partner Alex Guerrero, both putting their homes in Massachusetts up for sale.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss said on “Get Up” on Friday that the Patriots are in “wait and see” mode with Brady.
They have now seen. While Brady played relatively well on Saturday, throwing for 209 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception on 20-of-37 passing, the Patriots offense didn’t have enough juice, as was the case nearly all season.
Brady and the Patriots limped to the finish line, going 4-4 in the second half of the season. During that span, Brady completed just 56.9% of his passes for 1,806 yards, 11 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and an 80.8 passer rating.
Not all of that was on Brady. The pieces around him didn’t help — his offensive line regressed, the running backs couldn’t consistently get anything going on the ground, and the wide receivers lacked chemistry with their quarterback. It appeared Brady did not trust any receivers outside of Julian Edelman.
Some of it was on Brady, however. Brady missed throws he has historically made look routine. He struggled under pressure and moved around the pocket like, well, a 42-year-old in his 20th season.
In a sad irony, Brady’s Patriots career may have ended with the type of play he always sought to avoid: a pick-six. With 15 seconds left to play, trailing by one, and backed up on their own 1-yard line, Brady threw a pass, only to have it picked off by Titans cornerback Logan Ryan, who ran the ball into the end zone.
—Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 5, 2020
In the lead-up to Saturday, Brady avoided questions about his future. He has professed to not knowing what this offseason holds, but he shut down questions about whether he had considered that Saturday could be his final game at Gillette Stadium. He refused to get nostalgic, only discussing the task at hand.
Anyone who has watched Brady and the Patriots, particularly in recent years, has grown accustomed to them finding a way even in the direst circumstances. Situations like Saturday’s, with the Patriots trailing by one, needing one last drive to add another chapter to their legacy, have at times felt like predetermined outcomes.
Perhaps the magic had run out. On their second-to-last drive, Brady and the Patriots lost a crucial first down when Julian Edelman dropped an easy pass. Brady misfired on third down, and the possession was over. Often, great careers and dynasties don’t end on happy notes, but dreary ones.
Brady and the Patriots must decide if they want to change Saturday’s somber finish to an all-time great run, or perhaps if they have accomplished all they can together.