Patriots

Patriots

Perillo: What does Stork and LaFell returning to practice mean for the Patriots?FOXBORO -- The topic pops up almost weekly now, it seems. Usually a few days before a Patriots game, when Tom Brady is on the phone with a media contingent hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Just how long do you plan to play, Tom?

Brady always answers with some version of the same vague reply, but on Wednesday, he put a number on it.

"I'd like to play a long time, yeah, a long time," he said. "There's a lot that goes into playing well. I've played with a lot of great teammates. But I want to play for a long time, maybe 10 more years. I think that's probably what my goal is."

Brady is 38 years old and is arguably the league's most valuable player at this point in his 16th season. Another decade of life in the NFL sounds all but impossible, but you can see Brady's logic.

If he's one of the best players in the league right now, he could have a handful of seasons left as a very effective starter. And in a league that has a problem fielding competent starting quarterbacks for all 32 clubs, he may be able to stretch himself out in a starting role even as his physical abilities begin to deteriorate.

Even after his skills are long gone, would it come as a shock if some team somewhere signed Brady as a backup? Even if just for his mind alone.

 

Vinny Testaverde and Warren Moon played until they were 44. George Blanda played until he was 48. Is it hard to imagine Brady being in better physical shape than those players when they were nearing the end? 

Brady acknowledged that it may be someone else who determines the end of his career, whenever that is. But as long as he's wanted, it sounds as though he won't pass up the chance to play.

"Well, it's not always up to me," Brady said. "That's what my goals are, so that's just what I'm hoping. And it will take a lot to achieve that. Obviously a team has to want you, but I think that's ... you know, I love playing this sport. I love making a commitment to my teammates and my coaches, and hopefully I can do it for a long time."