Per Adam Schefter at ESPN, Tom Brady has yet to decide if he will play football this season. Although it might shock some, it makes sense that a quarterback born in 1977 might want to finally hang it up. After all, Brady's pretty much been the face of the entire NFL since the 2003-2004 NFL Season.
He also heads to the season not knowing who the Patriots' left tackle will be. If Terrific Tom feels somewhat vulnerable, who can blame him?
NFL News: What Happens if Tom Brady Really Doesn’t Play in 2018?
Most every NFL analyst believes Tom Brady plays in 2018. I'm not as sure as everyone else is. The reason I'm not so sure is because Tom's married to Giselle Bundchen. Giselle might, eventually, want her TD throwing husband to retire from one of the most dangerous professions on the planet.
Not only that, but the lack of a true starting left tackle can't be overstated. If the Patriots draft one this Thursday, that left tackle will be a rookie. If you're Tom Brady, are you cool with that?
Those are just a couple of reasons why Tom Brady could decide to not play this season. When you think about it, he's pretty much accomplished everything there is to accomplish as an NFL football player.
What happens if Tom really does hang'em up?
The Patriots Won't Win the AFC East Division
New England owns the AFC East Division. This isn't just because New England rocks it year in and year out. It's also because the AFC East is horrible. Miami, Buffalo, and the New York Jets have all been terrible teams fort he past decade. New England doesn't have to rock it every year to beat those three losers. Things might be changing, though.
This season, the AFC East might have somewhat of a resurgence. The New York Jets draft third next Thursday. That means, the Jets are finally going for a franchise QB. It's about time. With a QB like Josh Rosen, New York could turn into a legitimate AFC Playoff contender. The defense in New York has gotten better. It should take another step forward this season.
Buffalo signed A.J. McCarron to be their starting QB. I believe McCarron is a seriously talented quarterback who will excel as a full-time starter in the league. Reggie Ragland didn't pan out in Buffalo. That means the Bills must find a linebacker that can run coach Sean McDermott's defense. There are plenty of opportunities for the Bills to find that player next Thursday night on April 26.
Miami is the lone team that should have no shot at winning the AFC East should Terrific Tom retire. The Dolphins don't look like much on paper. But, don't worry if your a Fins fan. Miami could be the surprise team of the NFL this season. The defense played like a Top 5 unit in certain games last season while the offense is better suited to win football games in 2018.
Kenyan Drake is the lead running back. He's talented enough to be a fantasy stud this year. I also believe Senorise Perry is a decent RB. Trading Jarvis Landry to the Cleveland Browns and signing Danny Amendola was a fantastic move. Amendola provides you everything Landry does except he doesn't cost you as much. That's a good thing.
Without Brady, It's Doubtful New England Makes the Playoffs
The Patriots appear to be in full-on rebuilding mode. They traded away WR1 Brandin Cooks to the L.A. Rams for the Rams' Round 1 pick. Either New England packages the picks to jump into the Top 10, heck, maybe even the Top 4, to grab Brady's replacement or they draft an OT, or defensive player later in the round.
No matter what New England does, it's difficult to see them making the playoffs as a wildcard without Tom Brady. The Patriots, at least for this season, are more likely to become the Bills, Jets, or Dolphins while one of those teams becomes the Patriots. That's how important Tom Brady is to whether the New England Patriots win or not.
Pittsburgh Won't Take the Patriots' Place atop the AFC
Right now, the New England Patriots are 6 to 1 to win Super Bowl 53. The Pittsburgh Steelers are at 12 to 1 to win this season's Super Bowl. It sure appears as if Pitt is the team that will become the big dog in the AFC should Tom Brady retire.
But, Pitt isn't exactly set up to be the big dog in the conference. First, the Steelers, like New England, have an aging QB. Big Ben Roethlisberger should retire soon. Second, the Steelers' defense looked horrible in the 42 to 45 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.
The Jaguars Will Take the Patriots' Place atop the AFC
While Pittsburgh won't take New England's spot as the big dog in the AFC, Jacksonville most certainly will if Tom Brady were to retire. The Jaguars might have beaten the Patriots in the AFC Championship if not for a couple of questionable calls.
Jacksonville has the defense. Jalen Ramsey might be the best overall defender in the NFL. The Jaguars also upgraded their offense big time by signing free agent guard Andrew Norwell. Norwell should open holes up the middle for both Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon.
The Jaguars are the team to watch if Tom Brady retires. Heck, the Jags might be the team to watch in the AFC even if Tom Brady doesn't retire.
A New Face of the NFL Will Emerge…Or Not
Brady is easily the face of the NFL. He's the league's most popular player. No other player comes close in terms of marketing value because nobody is Tom Brady. If Brady retires, some other player could take up Brady's most famous player in the NFL mantle. Who will that be?
Tough question. Drew Brees is 39-years-old. Aaron Rodgers isn't really that type of guy. Eli Manning isn't Peyton Manning. Odell, Zeke, Antonio Brown…all of the great skill players in the league have asterisks near their names that prevent them from becoming the one player in the NFL that everybody knows. Will any player emerge as the most well-known in the league?
No, and that's not really a bad thing. The NFL doesn't need a most popular player. It actually might be refreshing to have a season where nobody says anything about either Tom or Peyton. It's been around 20-years since the last time that's happened.