Tom Brady is absent from voluntary workouts for the first time in a decade. Should his absence concern the Patriots brain trust?
There’s no question the New England Patriots would prefer Tom Brady to be a full participant in the team’s voluntary workouts. That doesn’t mean they should get worked up over his decision to skip them this season. The reality is the team’s mandatory activities will be more than enough to get the 40-year-old quarterback ready to go.
According to ESPN, Brady’s decision to skip voluntary workouts is consistent with his “less is more philosophy.” The general idea is that Brady, at his advanced age, needs to worry more about recharging his body than putting it through unnecessary stress. That policy also extends to his mental faculties. Brady believes he needs time away from the game to build up the mental energy to power the Patriots to another Super Bowl.
The reality here is that Brady has earned the right to prepare however he’d like. If he believes the best thing for him to do is skip voluntary workouts, then the Patriots coaching staff should accept him at his word. He’s proven his ability to play the game of football at an exceptionally high level for a long time. There’s no reason to think he’ll enter this season unprepared.
That doesn’t mean the Patriots shouldn’t learn valuable information from Brady’s decision. His choice to miss voluntary workouts proves that he’s starting to slow down. It’s time for New England to start to think about life without Brady at quarterback.
Having Brian Hoyer and Danny Etling as backups might be enough to get the Patriots through this season, but it’s a really poor long-term plan. Bill Belichick and Co. need to acquire Brady’s heir apparent very soon. They can do that via a trade this season or by a free agency acquisition or high draft pick in the offseason.
Brady will be ready to lead the Patriots to a productive 2018 season even though he’s skipping voluntary workouts. The question for New England is just how much longer can they count on Brady being under center. The fact that he’s spending less team around his teammates is a concrete sign than the team needs to find his long-term successor within the next year.