Questions on the 44-year-old’s future began the moment he left the field, with quarterback Brady saying that he “hadn’t put a lot of thought into it.”
“We’ll just take it day by day and see where we’re at,” he added.
Though reiterating his desire not to “rush” any decision, Brady said that his wife, Gisele Bündchen, and kids would be at the heart of any choice he made.
“The biggest difference now that I’m older is I have kids now too, and I care about them a lot as well,” Brady told Jim Gray.
“They’ve been my biggest supporters. My wife is my biggest supporter, it pains her to see me get hit out there.
“She deserves what she needs from me as a husband and my kids deserve what they need from me as a dad.”
Despite a heartbreaking end it was still another excellent season for the evergreen Brady, who threw a career-high and NFL season-best 5,316 yards to pass the 5,000-yard mark for the second time in his career.
He also led the NFL in regular season touchdown passes with 43, finishing second only to the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers in quarterback rating (QBR) with a 68.1 score.
Yet Brady asserted such a campaign would not have been possible without his family.
“I’m gonna spend some time with them and give them what they need, because they’ve really been giving me what I need the last six months to do what I love to do,” Brady said.
“I said this a few years ago, it’s what relationships are all about — It’s not always what I want, it’s what we want as a family. I’m gonna spend a lot of time with them and figure out in the future what’s next.
“Playing football I get so much joy from, I love it. But not playing football, there’s a lot of joy in that for me also now too, with my kids getting older and seeing them develop and grow.”
Having spent 20 years and won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, establishing a dominant dynasty with coach Bill Belichick, Brady signed with the Buccaneers in 2020.
He subsequently claimed his seventh Super Bowl ring in his first season in Florida, emphatically quashing another year of accusations that he was “done” at the top-level — claims that Brady dated back to 2015.
Retirement will come when Brady himself knows he can no longer play at that “championship level.”
“Every year I just have to make sure that I have the ability to commit to what the team really needs, that’s really important to me,” Brady said.
“The team doesn’t deserve anything less than my best. If I feel like I’m not committed to that, or I can’t play at a championship level, then you gotta give someone else a chance to play.
“We’ll see. There’s a long time between now and the start of next football season. I’ve gotta really figure those things out, which is probably natural for anyone.”