Now that Jimmy Garoppolo has been traded, now that Tom Brady is the only quarterback on the Patriots roster, the team must be comfortable rolling with its quadragenarian passer for the next handful of years. Right?
- Who will be Tom Brady's backup now that Jimmy Garoppolo is gone?
- Belichick on the trade: "We rode it out as long as we could"
- DJ BEAN: I still hate the Jacoby Brissett trade
- Belichick was right: Good luck making predictions at the trade deadline
- Garoppolo 'can't get on the plane fast enough' after trade to 49ers
- Jimmy G. to the 49ers, by the numbers
That's the assumption. But on Tuesday's conference call Bill Belichick hinted that Brady's spot as the team's starter isn't locked in for, say, the duration of his contract, which runs through 2019.
For someone in the late stages of his career, as Brady is, the evaluations have to be done on a year-to-year basis, Belichick explained.
"I’d say when a player gets to a certain point in his career, and that varies from player to player and position to position, but I look at those as at some point it becomes year-to-year," Belichick said. "So the expectations aren’t over a long period of time or longer window like they are with a player coming into the league where you look at a player’s growth in three-to-five years or two-to-four years or that type of a window where a player is young and improving and physically developing and gaining experience and skill and so forth.
"When you get players that have reached a certain point, then it’s their ability to maintain, although they can work to improve on little things and techniques and little skills like that. I’m not saying there aren’t things players can do to improve, but it’s more of a maintenance and maintaining that high level of play, their maximum level of play, wherever that level is that they’ve reached to sustain that."
Brady has maintained better than any quarterback in the history of the sport. But he won't be able to maintain forever. Belichick knows that, and he'll be gauging, as he does with every player, in order to shift course when necessary.
Belichick just doesn't know when that adjustment is coming. Safe to say that whenever it does, it will be at a later date than Belichick and his staff thought possible when they drafted Garoppolo back in 2014.
"Trying to predict [how an older player will maintain] is not something – I don’t think it’s easy. It’s not something I try to do a lot of," Belichick said. "I look at it as year-to-year. I learned that a long time ago, and I’d say that advice has served me well."