It seems that this question has inevitably come up during the NFL offseason for more than a decade. When will Tom Brady return? Eventually, age has to catch up, right?
So far it has not. And in 2021, the 44-year-old quarterback is posting numbers that may be the best of his career.
Brady has guided the Buccaneers to a 4-1 record to start the 2021 NFL season. The team’s offense has been one of the best in football and that’s largely thanks to Brady. He has a plethora of weapons at his disposal and has made the most of them.
Brady leads the NFL in passing yards heading into his “Thursday Night Football” clash with the Eagles. He has already had three games in which he has thrown at least four touchdown passes and should have a chance to continue playing at a high level as the 2021 NFL season progresses.
How good have Tom Brady’s stats been in 2021? How many passing yards does he average per game? How does it compare to other legends? Here’s what you need to know about the start of Brady’s 2021 campaign.
TOM BRADY INJURY: Bucs QB dealing with a hand problem
Tom Brady 2021 Stats
Tom Brady has featured monster stats so far during the 2021 NFL season. He leads the league in passing attempts, completions and passing yards in five games.
Brady has led the NFL in passing yards three times before, but has only led the league in attempts once. That happened when he threw 581 passes during his All-Pro season in 2017.
Here’s a look at Brady’s notable passing stats from 2021 to now and where they rank across the league.
|Passing yards per game||353.4||1st|
IYER: Odds, Betting Guide, Predictions for Eagles vs. Bucs
Tom Brady’s touchdown and passing yards pace
Tom Brady is at a record pace in terms of passing yards. He benefits from the NFL’s expansion to a 17-game schedule, but could become the first quarterback to throw more than 6,000 passing yards.
Before his “Thursday Night Football” game against the Eagles, Brady was averaging 353.4 yards per game. That pace would translate to about 6,008 passing yards in a 17-game season. The current NFL record is held by Peyton Manning, who threw for 5,477 yards in 2013.
Brady is not at the same record pace for touchdown passes. He’s set to post 51 in a 17-game season, as he’s averaged three per game to five so far. That would be a personal best for Brady, who had 50 touchdowns per pass in 2007 and the second-most in NFL history, but Manning has the highest mark with 55 in 2013.
MORE: Reviewing Tom Brady’s final season with the Patriots
How Tom Brady’s stats in 2021 compare to his best season
Brady’s best statistical season was his All-Pro year in 2007. That’s when he helped lead the Patriots to an undefeated regular season and recorded 50 passing touchdowns, the best in the NFL in a single season.
So far, Brady compares favorably to that season 14 years later. He is expected to exceed his career touchdown total that year and is expected to add nearly 1,200 more passing yards than in 2021.
|Stats||Brady 2007||Brady 2021|
|Yards per attempt||8.3||7.9|
Of course, it should be noted that Brady played one game less in 2007 than he is scheduled for 2021. So that will skew the numbers a bit in favor of the present.
Brady would still break the record for passing yards in an NFL season even if you put him on a 16-game pace this season. However, it would not reach 50 TD, since it would only add 48.
It’s also worth noting that Brady achieved his 2007 numbers on 578 pass attempts. He’s on track to 765 this season, so his league-leading efficiency records, including his 8.7 touchdown percentage and 8.3 yards per attempt, from 2007 will be hard to beat.
MORE: Why Tom Brady Left the Patriots, Explained
How Tom Brady’s stats compare to those of quarterbacks over 40
The most impressive part of how Brady is playing is his age. He is 44 years old and is playing as well as when he was thought to be in his prime in 2007.
Few quarterbacks have played well in their 40s, even legends like Brady. His 44-year-old season compares favorably with some of the other recent superstar quarterbacks who played in, or near, their 40s.
Manning is the only quarterback of these three who did not play until he was 40. The last season of his career came in his 39-year campaign, and he turned 40 in March of that year. As such, we will see his 39-year season.
Manning was, frankly, bad during the 2015 season, his last in the NFL. He struggled to throw the ball as he dealt with a nagging throwing arm injury that robbed his passes of power. He started just nine games during the regular season and was on track to throw for 3,876 yards, 16 touchdowns and a whopping 30 interceptions in a 16-game span.
Brady’s final career numbers knock Manning out of the water. He would have to go back to 2013 to find a Manning season comparable to Brady’s. However, that happened when Manning was 37 years old, so the fact that Brady is matching or surpassing Manning’s best season at age 44 is incredibly impressive.
Brees played in two seasons during which he was at least 40 years old. They arrived in 2019 and 2020.
Brees struggled to stay healthy in both seasons and missed a total of nine games in the two seasons combined. He was still a quality quarterback, but he wasn’t the same dynamic playmaker he was when he was younger.
In his last two seasons combined, Brees posted a 17-6 record and averaged 4,119 passing yards, 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions for every 16 games played. Those numbers are certainly strong, but they still pale in comparison to what Brady is doing during his 44-year season.
Favre, like Brees, played two seasons in his 40s. Well, for Favre it was the majority two seasons, since he turned 40 early in the 2009 season, so we’ll count it.
Favre’s first season at age 40 went well. He posted a 12-4 record with the Vikings and amassed 4,202 yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 68.4 percent of his passes, a career-high 68.4 percent. His 1.3 interception percentage was the lowest in the league.
However, in 2010, Favre collapsed. He went 5-8 and threw for 2,509 yards, 11 touchdowns and a whopping 19 interceptions. He fought off injuries and appeared to be over the hill.
Even discounting Favre’s final season, Brady’s 2021 results are better than the former Packers, Jets and Vikings quarterback to date. Of course, the NFL is a little happier with passing than it was in the late 2000s, but Brady’s stats are noticeably better than Favre’s.