Approaching his 41st birthday, retirement is sure to become an annual question for Tom Brady. One more Super Bowl win might seal the deal, and he has two years left on his contract right now.
But ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Wednesday morning that Brady has not yet committed to playing this season, while also adding the expectation he will play.
In a purely hypothetical world where Brady does retire, here are three (at least slightly) out of the box candidates to be the Patriots starting quarterback during the 2018 season.
3. Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater is a nice story, working his way back to the Minnesota Vikings' active roster last season after a career-threatening knee injury late in the 2016 preseason. He signed with the New York Jets, on a deal with virtually no risk for the team as he works his way back to full strength, and there's no guarantee Bridgewater makes the Jets' 53-man roster.
The Patriots could start to keep an eye on Bridgewater, and either make a trade for him or wait until his possible release. Purely from a work ethic and eventual command of the offense standpoint, Bridgewater would be a good fit in New England.
2. Baker Mayfield
The Patriots have been sniffing around some of the top quarterback prospects in this year's draft, and with two first-round picks they could make a move up to get one of them regardless of Brady's status.
Mayfield may be drafted in the top-five overall, most likely to either the New York Jets (No. 3) or the Denver Broncos (No. 5). But if he falls, and he'd be my pick of the top quarterback prospects to do just that, the Patriots could have the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner fall right to them at No. 23 overall.
1. Aaron Rodgers
Get ready Photoshoppers, GIF-ers and the like.
Rodgers is apparently not happy with some of the offseason moves by the Green Bay Packers, most notably quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt being gone and wide receiver Jordy Nelson being cut, as negotiations on a contract extension have been ongoing.
Rodgers is underpaid for the caliber of quarterback he is, at $20.5 million and $21.1 million in total compensation over the next two seasons. The Packers could go the Redskins-Kirk Cousins path and franchise tag Rodgers after that, with estimated tag values of $26.7 million in 2020, $32 million in 2021 and $46 million in 2022 (h/t to The Power Sweep). Near the end of that 2022 campaign, Rodgers will turn 39 years old.
But stick with me here. Its unlikely, but if Brady is simply tired of Belichick he may want a change of scenery. His $14 million base salary and $22 million cap hit for 2018 matches closely to Rodgers and his $20.5 cap hit for this year, so two all-time great quarterbacks who aren't happy in their current situations could be traded for each other quite seamlessly.
Rodgers has no exit path from Green Bay anytime soon. Brady, shy of announcing his retirement, is in a similar situation. But let's imagine a hypothetical, unprecedented, and never going to happen again, blockbuster trade in the NFL.