Whether Tom Brady will return as quarterback of New England next season is an open question. But the 42-year-old on Wednesday gave another indication that he isn’t done playing football. In an Instagram post to fans, Brady said “I still have more to prove” following a season that ended with the Patriots failing to reach the Super Bowl for just the second time since 2015.
“In both life and football, failure is inevitable,” he wrote. “You don’t always win. You can, however, learn from that failure, pick yourself up with great enthusiasm, and place yourself in the arena again.”
New England’s season ended with a 20-13 loss in the wild-card round to the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, concluding a sub-par season for Brady, at least by his standards. A six-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Most Valuable Player of the NFL title game and three-time winner of the league MVP, Brady could become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career when his contract ends in March.
His asking price for next season could be somewhere between $25 million and $35 million, and that has placed team owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick on the clock to either bring back Brady for his 21st season or watch the franchise’s greatest player depart from the only team he’s called home.
Giants finalize deal
The struggling New York Giants went into their third coaching search since 2015 looking for a leader for their young team. In hiring New England Patriots special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach Joe Judge, the Giants settled for a 38-year-old assistant who never has run a team either at the college or NFL level.
The Giants and representatives for Judge reached a contract agreement less than 24 hours after Judge was offered the job and asked to turn around a franchise that has made the playoffs once since winning the Super Bowl in February 2012.
What they did get with Judge though was a young man who has worked with two of the best football coaches in the past 30 years in Bill Belichick and Nick Saban.
Judge has won three Super Bowls (2014, ‘16 and ‘18 seasons) with New England in eight years as an assistant on Belichick’s staff. Before joining the Patriots, he spent three years working for Saban. The former Mississippi State player won titles with the Crimson Tide in the 2009 and ’11 seasons.
“Joe is one of the brightest young coaches in our profession, and I think he will do a tremendous job as the head coach of the New York Giants,” Saban said in a statement. “They are getting an extremely smart football coach who is very loyal, organized and diligent about getting the job done.”
Judge succeeds Pat Shurmur, who was fired after winning nine games in two seasons.
Giants co-owner John Mara said Judge was very impressive in his interview Monday.
“He knows what winning looks like and should look like,” Mara said. “His exposure and experience in New England and Alabama have helped shape his philosophy of building a winning program and culture.”
The two men considered the front-runners for the Giants’ job opted to coach other teams. Former Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy, who won a Super Bowl and went to the playoffs nine times in 12-plus seasons, accepted the Dallas job. Baylor coach Matt Rhule, a former Giants assistant, was hired by Carolina.
Key injury updates
For the second straight day, Baltimore lead running back Mark Ingram II missed practice ahead of the team’s divisional-round game Saturday, at home against Tennessee. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Ingram is “day-to-day.”
Ingram has yet to practice since straining the calf while playing on Dec. 22. If he can’t play, second-year back Gus Edwards is expected to receive the bulk of carries.
Defensive tackle Brandon Williams (non-injury related) also did not participate in Wednesday’s practice. Tight end Mark Andrews (ankle) was limited for a second consecutive day.
Titans linebacker Jayon Brown (shoulder), wide receiver Adam Humphries (ankle) and cornerback Adoree Jackson (foot) did not practice for the second straight day.
• San Francisco’s defense is about to be almost whole again at just the right time of the season.
Key starters Kwon Alexander, Dee Ford and Jaquiski Tartt are slated to return to the lineup for the 49ers’ playoff opener Saturday, at home against Minnesota, after injuries took a toll on the unit over the second half of the season.
The returns bode well for the postseason because few teams were as dominant as San Francisco was defensively over the first eight weeks of the season when the defense was mostly healthy. The unit wasn’t as dominant after the injuries began piling up.
Around the NFL
Special teams coordinator John Fassel is leaving the Rams for the same job with the Cowboys, joining the staff of Super Bowl-winning coach Mike McCarthy. Fassel has been in charge of the Rams’ superb special teams since 2012. He moved with the franchise from St. Louis to Los Angeles, and he served as the Rams’ head coach for the final three games of the 2016 season after Jeff Fisher was fired.
• Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is the latest person to interview for Cleveland’s head-coaching job. The Browns also have interviewed Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. They also have interviews scheduled with Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Dan Caesar • 314-340-8175
@caesardan on Twitter