Tom Brady wants to play until he turns 45.
The New England Patriots believe him.
How else to interpret the team trading heir-apparent Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers?
The 0-8 49ers got their quarterback of the future. The Patriots essentially got a late first-round pick in all but name that they pay second-day money to in receiving San Francisco’s second-round selection (likely the first or second pick in the second stanza) in the 2018 draft. And, with the release of Brian Hoyer—he was Jimmy Garoppolo before Jimmy Garoppolo—from the 49ers roster the Patriots sign a backup that they know and trust.
Sports journalists remark on the “big risk” the 49ers take in trading for a quarterback with two NFL starts. But the Patriots take a big risk by going all-in on a guy closing in on 300 career starts. Tom Brady possesses a much longer football past than he does a football future. And his 21 sacks in 2017 put him on pace to eclipse his career worst in that category.
Sure, he’s 40—but in a “40 is the new 30” kind of way.
Tom Brady leads the league in passing yards and completions. He does so without his favorite security blanket, Julian Edelman, and with other targets—Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan—banged up for portions of this season. He has reinvented himself as a go-deep guy, after years of dink-and-dunk following Randy Moss’s departure, with the arrival of Brandin Cooks. His 317 yards per game average beats number two (Russell Wilson) by more than 30 yards. He registers just two interceptions to 16 touchdown passes. He looks like an even bet to pick up his third Most Valuable Player award trophy (Alex Smith may alter those odds).
Fans talk about players “buying in” to the Patriots’ philosophy. By trading Jimmy Garoppolo, the Patriots show they buy in to Tom Brady’s TB12 philosophy, a cross between Tony Robbins and Charles Atlas.
A starting quarterback at 45 has never been done before. The five-time Super Bowl-winning QB specializes in just that.