New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the oldest non-kicker in the NFL, but he's still playing like the best quarterback in the entire league. He wants to play for another decade. How much time does he have left?
The Patriots have been preparing for a decline for the past five years, but it hasn't happened. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was expected to be the heir before Brady earned league MVP votes in each of the past two seasons. Now the Patriots are planning on moving on from Garoppolo after this season and have added another back-up quarterback in 3rd rounder Jacoby Brissett.
The cliff for Brady is in the near horizon, but it looks like he still has a few more elite years up his sleeves. How does that compare to quarterback situations across the league?
Younger quarterbacks are more valuable than older quarterbacks just due to how much time the player has left in their career. A 27-year-old Cam Newton or Russell Wilson puts a franchise in a better long term situation than a team with a 39-year-old Brady.
Rotoworld has broken down the quarterback situations of teams across the league, and Brady and the Patriots come in a solid 6th place.
"In the NFL, age does not let you down gently- it stalks like a predator on the open savanna. Peyton Manning was challenging for the MVP midway through the 2014 season. 16 months later, he was retiring because it was his only option. The cliff is waiting for Tom Brady, too, but damn if he isn't doing an amazing job eluding it.
"Brady was the league's best player last season before injuries robbed him of his weapons. Even with all the carnage, he still got his team to within a field goal of its seventh Super Bowl appearance on his watch.
"Going on 39, Brady could have as few as two years left, but two years of Brady is better than five from an average quarterback. Brady's four-game suspension complicates matters for 2016, but 12 starts should be more than enough to put the Pats in the driver's seat for their eighth consecutive AFC East title."
I understand the logic behind Wilson, Rodgers, Newton, and Luck because those players are young- or younger than Brady- with their entire careers ahead of them. While Luck is in a clear tier below the other three, he still offers enough promise and upside.
Roethlisberger had me scratching my head before I realized that he's only 34 years old- five years younger than Brady. He's just a year and a half older than Rodgers. I had always grouped Roethlisberger in with the Carson Palmer and Tony Romo class of aging quarterbacks, but he's younger than you would expect.
My main concern is that Roethlisberger is always banged up. Rotoworld notes that he was carted off the field three times in 2015 and his fall could come far more rapidly than Brady's.
But looking at 2016, the Patriots are currently without Brady for four games (although it will be nice to have a rested Brady for the playoffs, right?) and I can appreciate the reasoning of a season and future with 34-year-old Roethlisberger being a better situation than four games of Garoppolo and a 39-year-old Brady.
The Patriots edged out Drew Brees and the Saints, and it makes sense to group the two franchises together. Brady is better than Brees, but both have aging quarterbacks that will leave major vacancies upon their retirement. Of course, Brady's contract is infinitely more palatable than Brees' $30 million cap hit in 2016- and Brees is a free agent after this season.
On second thought, maybe the Saints are an awful comparison to the Patriots. I trust the Patriots to handle the salary cap and transition away from their franchise quarterback with a lot more competency.