(Reuters) - Six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady looks poised to return in 2020 — where he will play, however, has emerged as one of the NFL post-season’s biggest talking points.
While many fans of the New England Patriots may be unable to bear the thought of the quarterback wearing another team’s jersey, that reality could potentially come to pass, with the 20-season veteran heading into free agency.
The Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins are among the numerous teams picked by experts as possible landing places for the 14-time pro bowler, after a devastating 20-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans in the wild card round.
The 42-year-old has faced regular speculation about his possible retirement, despite having previously expressed an interest in playing until his mid-forties.
He appeared to put to rest any lingering doubts about continuing in the sport on Wednesday, writing on Instagram, “I know I still have more to prove”.
“In both life and football, failure is inevitable,” said Brady in a lengthy post that racked up over a million likes in 10 hours. “You can, however, learn from that failure, pick yourself up with great enthusiasm, and place yourself in the arena again.”
But while he was effusive in his praise for his fans in New England, he didn’t clarify whether he would return to the team that famously drafted him in the sixth round two decades ago.
And speculation over his next steps has grown rampant among fans, analysts and oddsmakers.
John Murray, the executive director of Race & Sports Operations at the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, told Reuters he believed Brady would likely stay with the Patriots, but said the Chargers, who have struggled to cement a fanbase since leaving San Diego had plenty of incentive to court him.
Westgate is not legally allowed to offer betting on Brady’s possible new team, but Murray suggested hypothetical odds of 4/1 for Brady joining the Chargers, 10/1 for the Raiders and 40/1 for the Panthers — with New England the 1/10 favorites to retain the quarterback in the 2020 season.
Around the NFL, speculation was mixed.
“It sounds like Tom Brady is saying goodbye to New England in today’s [Instagram] post,” tweeted analyst Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless).
“Hopefully after all cards are played [owner Robert Kraft] can get both sides to reach an agreement,” tweeted former linebacker Tedy Bruschi (@TedyBruschi), who won three Super Bowl championships alongside Brady. “Brady belongs in New England.”
Reporting By Amy Tennery; editing by Richard Pullin