Why Tom Brady Will Play In 2022…And Beyond

Love him or hate him, Tom Brady has made his mark on the NFL.  With 7 Super Bowl wins and virtually all the career high stats belonging to Brady he is of course among the top QBs of all time, if not the GOAT.  Tom Brady is also 44 years old.  For an NFL player he is ancient.  There are numerous QBs that have lasted in the 15-20 year range, but Brady is defying this.  Not only did he play last season, he won the Super Bowl.  He is showing that at 44 he can still play at an elite level.  The question on everyone’s mind is…Will this season be the end for Tom Brady? This season allowed him to break all the career records in the books, so what is his motivation to continue?


The Money?:

I think we can all agree that Tom Brady doesn’t need the money. He will be fine. The guy runs multiple businesses outside of playing, has as many endorsement contracts as he wants, and is married to a really high earning woman. Combined Tom and Giselle are likely in the billionaire club and no amount of NFL salary is really going to make a dent in how they live. If we can agree that money is not why Tom Brady is still playing in the NFL, then why is it?

According to Celebrity Net Worth; Tom and Giselle have a combined net worth of $650 Million. These figures are often extraordinarily low because they do a piss poor job of accounting for investments. I think they combined are more likely to be worth closer to $1 billion to $2 billion.

For comparison, a $25 million check from the Bucs for someone who is worth $1 Billion is the same as a $25,000 check to someone with $1 Million. It isn’t going to be the driving force in their decision making. We actually have to account for taxes taking half, so really it’s like $12,500 to someone with $1 million. The pay from the NFL doesn’t matter to Brady. If Brady never earned another dime and followed the 4% rule he could spend $40 million a year forever and never run out of money.

Pension Plan:

The pension plan is fairly difficult to figure out.  The collective bargaining agreement gives players a monthly credit for each year of participation and players are vested with 3 years. Each credit is a monthly payout.  Different years of participation have different credits.  For Tom Brady specifically:

  • 1998 – 2011 $550
  • 2012 – 2014: $616
  • 2015-2017: $726
  • 2018 – Current: $836

Brady would have 12 years of $550, 3 years of $616,  3 years of $726, and 4 years of $836 if he retired now. This would add up to $13,970 per month or $167K per year. Check out the CBA here, page 317

Players are eligible to receive their full benefits at the age of 55.5 While the pension plan is much worse than other sports, the NFL does offer a generous 401(k) plan. The league matches every player’s contribution by as much as 200%.”

He also likely had the maximum allowable 401K contribution between employer and employee for the last 20 years. If he just put this in an S+P 500 fund he would have $4 million in his 401K.

Sure, both of the pension and the 401K are drops in the bucket for Brady, but nonetheless, these are benefits he has.


I do find people who work high stress jobs who don’t need the money fascinating.  This is often the case with CEOs and professional athletes.  I think the real reason Brady will continue to play is because he can. Tom Brady likes to win. He likes to be great. He has put an insane amount of effort into becoming a great QB, staying healthy, and of course has had a lot of luck along the way. Barring any serious injury not only do I think Tom Brady will play next year, I think he will play until he is 50.

Tom said it himself. There’s a recent clip of him talking about retiring and he said he doesn’t want to be watching a game and know for a fact that he can do better than the guy on the field. I think barring a significant injury Tom Brady will keep playing until he is no longer a top 5 QB, and currently he’s still #1.

Building The Team:

Playing for 22 seasons in the NFL has given Tom Brady amazing insights into the game, most notably on the people needed to support him, his Offensive line and his receivers. This playoff run is a big deal because he lost his go to receivers. Next year he will get Godwin back. Tom is well protected by his offensive line.  He rarely has to scramble and takes far fewer hits than your average QB.  Part of this is that he gets the ball out quickly, but his offensive line is key.

The Buccaneers are in a great spot as far as salary cap is concerned, They don’t have huge deadweight losses around their necks, meaning that they have the funds to pay for an all-star team. The Bucs have the lowest amount of dead money on their salary cap of any NFL team for 2022 at $164,000 compared to the highest The Texans with over $35 million in dead money.

I can see Tom Brady taking a substantial pay cut going into 2023 and beyond. Now Brady should of course be compensated for what he brings to the table and should be the highest paid NFL player, however due to salary cap regulations he could become a top QB with bottom of the barrel receivers and linemen. That doesn’t work. Super Bowl rings are much more important to Brady than dollars, especially at this stage in the game. Tom cutting his pay to a couple million a year, or even to the NFL minimum would not surprise me. Tom cares deeply about his team mates getting paid. Just look at the video of him defying Bruce Arians to ensures that Gronk got his $500K bonus.

Especially if the Bucs can pull off winning the Super Bowl this year, or even just getting to it, I think Brady will be able to convince other players to stay for less money to keep a winning team together. I’m not sure if this would be legal, but I could see Brady offering business opportunities outside of the NFL to guys who sign up for another season.  Say, I’ll give you a 2.5% stake in my NFT project that just went live, or something like that.



This is the big one. Being a professional athlete although very lucrative does not give a ton of freedom. Football is freer than Basketball, but still, you are an employee. The games are where they are at when they are at. The only reason Tom would quit is if he wanted to remove structured activities from his life and have more time freedom.

The NFL season is from early September to early February, if you are in the Super Bowl. That gives 7 months without games. Tom has a lot of time off. Sure he needs to work out and practice during these months, but it isn’t as intense as during the season and he has flexibility with this schedule.

NFL players in their first 5 years get 15 vacation days plus a separate allotment of personal days. I’m sure at 20+ years its more than that and the Bucs would allow Tom extra time off if he wanted/needed it. Brady arguably has more ability to influence his schedule and have more freedom than anyone else who has ever played in the NFL.


It’s amazing how many times in the sports world you think a record will never fall, but then a decade or two later it does. Maybe in 20 years there will be several QBs who last for 2 decades. By playing longer while he is physically able to Tom Brady can protect his records into the future. Every game he plays he is widening the distance on his major career records.

Passing Yards: 

  • Tom Brady 84,520
  • Drew Brees 80,358
  • Peyton Manning 71,940

Passing Touchdowns

  • Tom Brady 624
  • Drew Brees 571
  • Peyton Manning 539

Pass Completions

  • Tom Brady 7263
  • Drew Brees 7142
  • Brett Favre 6300

Career Wins:

  • Tom Brady 243
  • Brett Favre 186
  • Peyton Manning 186

Championship Appearances:

  • Tom Brady 14
  • Young / Montana /Staubach 7
  • Elway / Bradshaw 6

Super Bowl Wins:

  • Tom Brady 7
  • Montana / Bradshaw 4
  • Troy Aikman 3

3 more seasons like this one and Brady would hit 100,000 passing yards, 9,000 pass completions, and over 700 passing touchdowns.

There is another record that I think Brady would love to have, and that is the pass completion duo record with Gronk.  If both Brady and Gronk play next season and stay healthy, then they will have a good chance at hitting this record.

  • Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison 114
  • Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski: 105
  • Steve Young + Jerry Rice: 92


Super Bowls:

Tom Brady and the Bucs just might win the Super Bowl this year. If they win the 2022 Super Bowl the very idea of being the first team to win 3 in a row has to appeal to Tom Brady. Winning this year will give him his 8th ring and going for 3 in a row could give him #9.

Then do you really think this man will walk away with 9 and not go for 10? Especially if he is able to continue to play at an elite level?   Mind you for the regular season he led the NFL with passing touchdowns, passing yards, attempts, and completions….And the numbers weren’t close. We are only talking about playing for another 25 months.  I am confident Brady can play at an elite level for the next 25 months.


Why Would Tom Brady Retire This Season?

Giselle Wants It: Relationships are more important than legacy and money.  If Giselle really wants Tom to be done, I think he will retire.

The Bucs Can’t Win: What if the Bucs lose tomorrow and are kicked out of the playoffs early?  What if The Bucs lose more of their winning team? I don’t think Tom will play just to play.  He will only play if there appears to be a true realistic path the winning the Super Bowl.

Tom Sustains An Injury:  Receiving a significant injury at this stage in the game would probably be career ending.  Say Tom tears his ACL or rotator cuff, I think he will be done.

What do you think?  Do you think Brady will retire this year?

I also think we will see the same thing with Lebron James.  Barring a major injury he will keep playing until he is the all time point leader in the NFL and has played at least 1 season with his son.  


John C. started Action Economics in 2013 as a way to gain more knowledge on personal financial planning and to share that knowledge with others. Action Economics focuses on paying off the house, reducing taxes, and building wealth. John is the author of the book For My Children's Children: A Practical Guide For Building Generational Wealth.

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