With Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gearing up for his 20th season in the NFL, what are the records he could realistically break in 2019?
At this point, there really shouldn’t be any more debate: Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time. Period.
While there might still be an argument to be made as to who is the greatest football player of all time (Brady? Jerry Rice? Lawrence Taylor?), the sheer number of accomplishments and accolades Brady has stockpiled over the past two decades gives the Patriots QB breathing room over his other all-time rivals – namely Joe Montana.
Brady has already won more regular and postseason games than anyone else in history. He owns just about every major record in playoff and Super Bowl history, and it would be a minor miracle to see another player even come within sniffing distance of those marks during our lifetime.
So what’s left for Brady to prove?
He would be the first to say: “everything.”
Just as he’s famous for claiming his favorite Super Bowl ring is “the next one,” Brady doesn’t need any more motivation than what he already has in front of him. His legacy long since assured, the 41-year-old signal-caller is now battling Father Time more than anything else, trying to extend his career into his mid-40s like he’s always planned.
And although he might not come out and say it publicly, you better believe he wants that seventh Lombardi Trophy before he retires. It’s not just about winning another championship – it’s also about breaking the tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl titles in NFL history.
Beyond winning games or trophies, Brady also can set his sights on climbing ever higher in the regular season and career record books. Again, no one will probably ever pass him when it comes to postseason accolades. But with only a handful of seasons presumably left in his playing career, now is the time for Patriots fans to really get familiar with where Brady stands in most career quarterback categories – and where he might finish one day.
Let’s start with career passing yards.
Brady already owns the No. 1 spot in career passing yards by a quarterback with one team, but he’s currently fourth on the all-time list for career passing yards in general, with 70,514 as of now. The three players above him: Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Brett Favre, all split time during their careers with more than one team.
Barring cataclysmic injury, Brady should leapfrog both Favre and Manning on this list in 2019. He needs just 1,324 yards to pass Favre for the No. 3 spot, and 1,426 yards to pass Manning for No. 2. Considering the fact that Brady has passed for at least 2,800 yards in every season that he’s played at least 12 games in, it looks like this will certainly be the year he rises to second all time in career passing yards.
The tougher task for Brady will be trying to catch Brees.
Both quarterbacks play in electrifying offenses, although both also took a bit of a backseat towards the end of last season to their run games. Brady is about a year-and-a-half older than Brees, and while the New Orleans QB could conceivably retire before Brady does (he hasn’t been nearly as vocal about playing into his mid-40s as Brady), it still might be difficult for Brady to catch him, considering Brees has about a 4,000-yard head-start on Brady (which equates to about a full season’s worth of throwing).
Brady also ranks No. 4 in career pass completions with 6,004. Once again, it’s Brees, Favre, and Manning above him, although the order is swapped around a bit (Favre is No. 2 and Manning is No. 3). Brady needs just 122 completions to pass Manning and 297 to pass Favre.
Consider this: in the past 10 years, the only time Brady didn’t have at least 300 completions in a season was 2016, the year he missed the first four games while serving a suspension for his role in Deflategate. Logically then, Brady should be able to climb to No. 2 on this list by season’s end (again, barring injury).
As was the case with career passing yards, Brady will find it challenging to catch Brees in career passing completions. The Saints QB has a 582-completion lead on him currently, and could push that number even further into the stratosphere over the next few seasons.
One career category that Brady does own an edge over Brees in currently – albeit a small one – is in fourth quarter comebacks. Brady has 35 to Brees’ 34… meaning this race could go back-and-forth over the years to come, depending on how the Saints and Patriots both fare from game to game. Peyton Manning still reigns supreme overall with 43 career fourth quarter comebacks, but that’s a record that could fall to either Brees or Brady before they both join Manning in retirement.
Of note, the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger is nipping at their heels as well when it comes to this category, as he has 31 fourth quarter comebacks of his own.
Perhaps the most important career passing record of all is touchdowns.
This category is arguably the most competitive between Brady and Brees, both this season and looking ahead to their remaining future seasons in the NFL. Brady currently is No. 3 on the all-time list with 517 scores, whereas Brees is No. 2 with 520. Manning still holds the top spot with 539 career passing touchdowns.
This could be – and should be – the season in which both Brady and Brees pass Manning’s record though. Brees needs just 20 touchdowns in 2019 to take the crown, and he hasn’t thrown for anything less than 20 touchdowns since 2003, his third year in the NFL (when he still played with the then-San Diego Chargers).
Brady also should be a lock to pass Manning here, needing 23 touchdowns to do so. Interestingly enough, the last time Brady threw for 23 or fewer touchdowns was also the year 2003, Brady’s fourth season in the NFL and his third as a full-time starter.
Assuming both Brees and Brady make it through 2019 unscathed, Manning should find himself lowered to No. 3 all-time in career passing touchdowns by New Year’s Eve at the latest.
The juicier question and fuel for debate is trying to figure out which quarterback – Brady or Brees – will be the first to do it… and then of course, which player will finish No. 1 when both have retired from the NFL altogether.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!