Analyst Stephen A. Smith of ESPN weighed in on rumors that veteran quarterback Tom Brady might not return to the New England Patriots next season. Earlier, NFL insider Adam Schefter of ESPN reiterated his earlier claim that Brady staying with the Patriots next season is the “least-likely option” for the 42-year-old signal-caller. On Saturday, Smith declared on ESPN’s First Take that he can’t imagine Brady leaving the Patriots after a 20-year stint with the franchise.

“I can’t imagine Brady leaving. My mentality has always been he’d retire,” said Smith on First Take, a clip of which was posted on YouTube. “I don’t believe Mr. Kraft would lose him in New England,” he added. If Brady indeed leaves the Patriots, Smith suggested an ideal destination for the 42-year-old quarterback – the Tennessee Titans. According to Smith, Brady is known to be close to Titans head coach Mike Vrabel as they played together with the Patriots from 2001 to 2008.

Vrabel and Brady are close friends

Vrabel won three Super Bowl rings while playing with Brady. Even though Vrabel left for the Kansas City Chiefs, he has maintained his close friendship with Brady. As of now, Smith said the Titans have no problem on defense as they are ranked fourth in the NFL this season, but they have woes on putting points on the board with Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill as quarterbacks.

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Currently, the Titans are 27th in the league in passing yards (204.6 yards per game) and points per game (17.3). However, the Titans defense is solid, allowing an average of 16 points per game, good for fourth in the NFL. Smith said the Titans could flourish with Brady running the offense while Vrabel focuses on further strengthening their defense. “Brady could be 50 years old and he’d be an upgrade from Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill,” said Smith. The Titans are currently third in the AFC South with a 3-4 record.

Brady responds to Schefter’s claim

In a news conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, Brady discussed Schefter’s claim, according to the New England Sports Network (NESN). Brady said he’s wondering why his contract situation has been brought up now even though it hasn’t changed for months. Brady was referring to the two-year, $70 million contracts that he signed in the offseason. However, the two additional years are voidable, meaning Brady could become a free agent after this season.

“I don’t get into it. I mean, honestly, my situation hasn’t changed. I’m just focused on what I’m always focused on, which is this week, trying to be a great quarterback for this team,” said Brady. The veteran signal-caller said he’s tired of dealing with such kind of rumors about his future with the Patriots, who drafted him 199th overall in the 2000 NFL Draft. The Patriots (7-0) will try to keep their unbeaten record when they go up against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

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