NFC Notes: Tom Brady, Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints

Tom Brady

Regarding Buccaneers GM Jason Licht believing Tom Brady could play until he’s 50-years old, Brady told Jori Epstein of USA Today that his goal has always been to continue his career until 45 and will determine whether he wants to continue playing at the end of his contract in 2022. 

“50? That’s a long time. Even for me, that’s a long time,” Brady said. “I’ve always said 45 was the age that I wanted to reach and that was my goal. This year I’ll be 44, so next year I’ll be 45. I got a two-year contract. I’m going to be able to obviously play this year and God forbid anything happens but play next year and then see what happens after that. If I still want to keep playing, I might be able to do that. And if that’s enough, then that would be enough.”

“I’ll just have to evaluate all that when it comes,” Brady added. “It’s a physical sport; anything could happen. So I’m going to go out there this year and give everything I’ve got like I’ve done every other year, and then take it from there.


Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey said Sam Darnold is “dialed in” at practice and is proving himself as a leader around the locker room. 

“I think I’ve seen him grow in a lot of ways,” McCaffrey said, via David Newton of ESPN. “He’s a guy that approaches each day the exact same and continues to strive to get better. But when you make a statement Day One like Sam did, I think it’s tough — you just expect that from here on out. So somebody like him, every single day, he comes always trying to get better. As a leader, he’ll text guys late at night, asking about plays, giving us what he sees on certain plays. And you can just tell he’s dialed in.”

McCaffrey added that Darnold is “very consistent” with his development into the Panthers’ system. 

So every day, every throw, as a leader, as a player, just kind of developing in the offense and learning the playbook and getting everything down, he’s just been very consistent. SoI think when you stack a bunch of consistent days on top of each other, that will ultimately create a lot of growth. And that’s what he’s done.”


Saints WR Tre’Quan Smith feels that he has a “big opportunity” to succeed in 2021 given New Orleans didn’t sign any veteran receives or use a high draft pick at the position. 

“I definitely feel like it’s a big opportunity for me, knowing that they didn’t bring in any veterans (in free agency) and didn’t draft a high receiver,” Smith said, via Mike Triplett of ESPN. “I feel like they expect me to show up this year. And that’s just what I’m gonna do, and I appreciate that.”

Smith intimated that the Saints plan on passing downfield more often with either QB Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill, while Winston already told him to anticipate for deep passes. 

We’ve talked about it a lot,” said Smith. “Jameis already told me, ‘Listen, when I’ve got the ball, whatever you do, don’t stop running. Because I’m looking forward to stretching the (field) this year. So please don’t stop running on me. Don’t make me look bad if you’re not running.’”

Saints OC Pete Carmichael Jr. said he’s excited about Smith’s development and pointed out that he can line up at several receiver roles. 

“He’s a veteran,” Carmichael Jr. said. “And really when you go back and look at the body of work that he’s done and the improvement that he’s made over the last couple of years, we really felt strongly about the way he played for us. We’re real excited about him. First of all, he’s a smart player, so you can move him around. You can put him at a couple different spots. He brings a presence to himself in the run game. … And we’ve got to find ways to get the ball in his hands, because he can do some things when the ball is in his hands.”

  • Katherine Terrell can see the Saints signing another cornerback, but does not think they will sign another linebacker unless they bring back veteran LB Kwon Alexander.

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