New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady expressed his intent to play into his mid-40s. Giving in to Brady’s request, the Patriots traded their quarterback of the future, Jimmy Garoppolo, to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2018 second-round pick. The move indicated that the Patriots are ready to roll with Brady until he decides to call it a career. The question of when will be for Brady to decide. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network Insider, the Patriots will let Brady decide when he will retire for good and relinquish the starting job that he has held since 2001.

“From my understanding, the Patriots trust that Tom Brady will know when it is time to hang them up,” Rapoport told Mike Garafolo of Good Morning Football. Rapoport said Brady will inform the Patriots if he feels that he’s not playing at a high level and let them know that it’s time to walk away from the game.

Patriots won’t trade Brady

Rapoport clarified that the Patriots have no plans of either trading or releasing the 40-year-old Brady, whom he expects to play for two more years before he hangs up his cleats for good. “This is going to be something where he’s going to get with them and decide it is time to walk away,” said Rapoport, who added that the Patriots are expected to pick Brady’s replacement in this year’s draft.

If not, they will scour next year’s draft class for Brady’s heir-apparent.

Patriots traded away possible starter

Garoppolo was expected to take over as a starter for the Patriots, but Seth Wickersham of ESPN reported that Brady approached team owner Robert Kraft and expressed his desire to play until he’s 45. After that, Kraft ordered head coach Bill Belichick to trade Garoppolo, who emerged as a starter for the 49ers.

Currently, the Patriots only have veteran Brian Hoyer as a backup, but they are expected to take a quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Doug Kyed of NESN touted Kyle Lauletta of Richmond as a possible pick for the Patriots and an heir-apparent to Brady. Kyed said Lauletta’s style of play is similar to Garoppolo, who learned as Brady’s understudy for four years.

Lauletta was a virtual unknown until he made his mark in the Senior Bowl, where he was selected Most Outstanding Player. This season, Lauletta threw for 3,737 yards with 28 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and compiled 10,465 yards and 73 touchdowns with 35 interceptions in his college career. A dual-threat quarterback, Lauletta ran for 12 touchdowns.