Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady said he hasn't set a plan for the conclusion of his NFL career, but is aware that he's "very close to the end."
"I really don't (know when I'll be done playing)," Brady said in feature story for Variety released on Thursday (July 14). "I would say it's year to year: Could this be my last year? Absolutely. Could I change my mind? Absolutely. I've realized I don't have five years left. I want to do it my way. I want to give it everything I got and see where I'm at. My body feels really good. I've had a lot of traumatic injuries over the years, but if things go really smoothly and we win, that'd be great."
Brady, who turns 45 next month, opted to retire, then un-retire, earlier this year and will play in his 23rd NFL season, with a record-setting 10-year, $375 million deal to become FOX Sports' lead NFL analyst set to begin immediately after the conclusion of his playing career.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion said he made his initial February retirement decision "in the moment" and "felt it was the right thing for the team to let the Bucs know," but later "felt like I could still play and compete" before announcing his return in March.
"I know, I know. I would have preferred to un-retire in July if I wanted to play," Brady added. "But I couldn't. If I said I'm not playing, they'd make plans. So I felt there was a lot of pressure to make a decision quickly. And then ultimately, I just decided, 'Yes, let's do it.' And once I said that, it was like -- OK, here we go."
The deal is significantly larger than his $332,962,392 career earnings -- which include the $30 million he's due for the upcoming 2022 season -- in contracts with the New England Patriots (2000-2019) and Buccaneers (2020-present) during his NFL playing career, according to Spotrac.com.
Brady told Variety that FOX Sports initially reached out to him after the conclusion of the 2021 NFL season, prior to making his initial retirement decision and confirmed that ESPN was also among "a lot of different opportunities I was approached with."
When asked if his jump to FOX Sports would be delayed by an extending playing career, Brady said, "Obviously there's a chance. But I'm very close to the end" and reiterated that his focus, for now, is solely on his 23rd NFL season.
"I want to focus on football," Brady told Variety. "I really want to commit to this year to be as best as I possibly can."
Brady is the NFL's all-time passing leader for yards (84,520) and touchdowns (624), as well as quarterback wins (243), among numerous other records.
The San Mateo native spent his first 20 seasons with the Patriots, leading the franchise to an NFL record six Super Bowl championships (tied with the Steelers), before joining the Buccaneers as a free agent in March 2020, which resulted in Tampa Bay winning its second Super Bowl in franchise history, becoming the first NFL team to win a Super Bowl in its home stadium, in February 2021.