Tom Brady expects to return, Rob Gronkowski less definitive

Tom vs. Tom (1:46)

As Tom Brady seeks his sixth Super Bowl ring, Wright Thompson tells us about the last test of the quarterback's career as he fights to avoid witnessing his own inevitable decline. (1:46)

MINNEAPOLIS -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said earlier this week that he wasn't thinking of retirement, and he reinforced that Sunday by saying on Westwood One radio prior to the Super Bowl: "Yeah, you're gonna see me playing football next year. I don't envision not playing."

Brady is signed through the 2019 season and is still playing at a high level, as evidenced by being named the NFL's Most Valuable Player on Saturday.

After Sunday's 41-33 Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Brady was less definitive but still stuck to the same refrain.

"I expect to be back, but we'll see," Brady said after throwing for 505 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday's defeat. "It's 15 minutes after the game ended. Have to process this a little bit. Don't see why I wouldn't be back."

Perhaps surprisingly, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski left the door open to the possibility of retirement following Sunday's loss.

"I am definitely going to look at my future for sure," said Gronkowski, who will turn 29 during the offseason. "I am going to sit down the next couple weeks and see where I am at."

When pressed further on a possible retirement, Gronkowski said he's "not ready for these type of questions right now."

"I'm going to reflect on the season," said Gronkowski, who had a team-high nine catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns. "Proud of the boys and just see what happens."

Given their ages, the futures of Brady (40) and head coach Bill Belichick (65) had already sparked media-based speculation. Belichick is also expected to return, saying in January after an ESPN report detailed friction among Belichick, Brady and owner Robert Kraft that he "absolutely" intends to be back with the Patriots next season.

In an interview with NFL Network, Patriots team president Jonathan Kraft was asked if he could envision a scenario in which he told Brady it was time to retire, and he said Brady had earned the latitude to decide when to do so.

When Brady was asked his reaction to Kraft's remarks, he said, "Why does everyone want me to retire so bad? I'm having fun, the team is doing good. I know I'm a little bit older than most of the guys, but I'm really enjoying it. ... So I'm not thinking about retirement."

Earlier in the week, when asked about his goal of playing into his mid-40s, Brady said, "I never want to be a detriment to the team. For me, as long as I'm playing at a high level, and I make the commitment to take care of myself year-round, then I'll continue to play. I don't know. Things change quickly. Anything can happen. But obviously, I want to keep playing. I love playing. And I love playing for the Patriots."

Even if Brady, Belichick and Gronkowski all return, the Patriots will look different next season. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are expected to be named the head coaches of the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions, respectively, this week, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.