Robert Kraft does not expect Tom Brady to retire anytime soon.
In fact, the owner of the New England Patriots has it on good authority that the five-time Super Bowl champion quarterback is planning to play until his mid-40s.
“As recently as two, three days ago, he assured me he’s willing to play six, seven more years,” Kraft told reporters Monday at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix.
Brady, 39, previously stated his desire to play until he is 45. Playing six additional seasons would allow him to reach that goal.
Quarterback/kicker George Blanda holds the distinction of being the oldest active player in NFL history, playing until age 48.
Kraft likened Brady’s longevity to retired gunslinger Brett Favre.
“At the level he performed, there is no one who would be happier than I am and our fan base,” Kraft said. “When you think about it, there’s one player at the age of 40 who had one good year: Favre.”
Favre led the Minnesota Vikings to a first-place finish in the NFC North and a divisional round victory in the playoffs at age 40.
Brady isn’t the only Patriot that Kraft would like to see rack up the years.
“You see Warren Buffet and Rupert Murdoch, they’re in their mid-eighties and performing in a pretty high level, so we’re going to keep (coach) Bill (Belichick) healthy,” Kraft said.
Kraft also chimed in on the uncertainty surrounding cornerback Malcolm Butler, who is a restricted free agent. Butler, 27, was tendered a $3.91 million contract for the 2017 season, but has not yet signed it.
“I hope he’s with us and signs his offer sheet and plays for us,” Kraft said. “I have a great affection for him. He was part of probably the greatest play in the history of our team.”
Butler visited with the New Orleans Saints earlier this month and drew rave reviews from Saints coach Sean Payton.
On the topic of inviting NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to the Patriots’ banner raising ceremony next season, Kraft said he plans to extend a formal invite to Goodell.
“Look, he’s commissioner in the league,” Kraft said, via the Boston Herald. “As we all know, he has the right to go wherever he wishes to go. And if he wanted to come, he’s welcomed to come. We’re happy we’ll be celebrating our fifth banner. He can decide whether he wants to be there.”
New England erased a 25-point deficit en route to a thrilling 34-28 overtime victory in Super Bowl LI, handing the Patriots their fifth championship of the Kraft, Brady and Belichick era.