Tom Brady led the Patriots to a historic 25-point comeback victory over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. (Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports)
Last year, ESPN’s Max Kellerman was the standard-bearer of Tom Brady boogeymen, for proclaiming the Patriots quarterback was “going to be a bum in short order.” This year, it seems like Fox Sports’ Shannon Sharpe is ready to take the mantle from him.
In a segment Tuesday with Skip Bayless on FS1’s Undisputed, which routinely draws fewer viewers than reruns of M*A*S*H during the same time slot, Sharpe said the Patriots should be prepared to face Brady’s decline within the next two years.
“The Patriots should keep Jimmy Garoppolo. And I know Tom Brady has convinced a lot of people –– I read the column that he had in MMQB with Peter King –– that he’s going to play five or six more years. He’s convinced all the Patriots fans, and he’s convinced the guy that sits across from me that he’s going to play five to six more years,” he said. “I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news, but I will anyway. He’s not playing five or six more years. OK… he might, but he won’t be in a Patriots uniform, so let’s just leave that. I give him two more years.”
There have been conflicting reports about whether the Patriots will trade Garoppolo this offseason. Peter King and Ed Werder say he’s going to stay in New England, whereas Adam Schefter insists the Patriots will trade him for at least a first- and fourth-round pick. But in Sharpe’s world, Garoppolo’s status with the team shouldn’t even be a question, because he could soon take over for Brady.
“But do you know what happened when Peyton Manning was 37 years old? He threw for 5,467 yards, 55 touchdowns,” he said. “They scored the most points in NFL history, had four different guys with at least 10 touchdowns. And then he followed that up into 38 with 39 [touchdowns] and 15 interceptions, 4,700 yards. And then he stepped off a cliff.”
The Manning comparison is often made when the topic of Brady’s football mortality comes up. But it’s invalid, because warning signs were there for Manning. Late in the 2014 season, his play slipped after he had suffered a quad injury that December. Manning limped to the finish line that year, throwing four touchdown passes and six interceptions with a 79.98 quarterback rating over the final four games. So, his decline in 2015 didn’t come out of nowhere. It started happening the previous year.
Brady. meanwhile, led the AFC in passer-rating last season (112.2) at 39 years old. But Sharpe says that could all change when he’s 40, because, well, he’s 40.
“What you’re not looking at, also, is that the four games he missed – that was four games of licks that he didn’t have to take,” Sharpe said. “And as you get older, you can get the body faster, you can get the body stronger, you can get it to withstand more stress. You can’t make it younger. He’s going to be 40. And as you get older, the licks, the dings, they linger longer.”
In theory, Sharpe is correct. Brady will stop being the best at his position one of these days. But it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon. If Sharpe is going to predict Brady’s demise, he has to prove there are signs of a downturn in performance. Right now, he’s got nothing.