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Brady vows NFL return next season at age 43 - but where?

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New York (AFP)

Six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady said Wednesday he plans to play in the NFL next season at age 43, but where he would play remains a major mystery.

In a posting on his Instagram account, Brady looked back on this past campaign with the New England Patriots, which ended with a Saturday home playoff loss to Tennessee, and into his future as a free agent.

"In both life and football, failure is inevitable. You don't always win," Brady said.

"You can, however, learn from that failure, pick yourself up with great enthusiasm, and place yourself in the arena again. And that's right where you will find me. Because I know I still have more to prove."

Brady, who turns 43 next August as NFL teams are in training camp, has won more Super Bowls than any other player over a 20-year career, but his completion rate of 60.8 percent this season was his worst since 2013 and New England's attack often sputtered in critical games, going scoreless in the second half of the Tennessee loss.

The Patriots have not re-signed him for next season, even though Brady has, when healthy, directed the team's offense under coach Bill Belichick for most of the past two decades.

Brady, who has led the Patriots to nine Super Bowls in 18 seasons as a starter, figures to get a look from several other teams.

The Indianapolis Colts, who lost Andrew Luck to retirement in August, went 7-9 under former backup Jacoby Brissett and would be in the market for a veteran leader like Brady.

The Los Angeles Chargers have more than $55 million in salary cap space available and could afford a steep asking price for Brady and also spend to bolster the offensive line to better protect him.

The Oakland Raiders, with $67 million in salary cap room, will move to Las Vegas for next season and could want a big-name signal caller in Brady rather than Derek Carr for their new stadium and fan base.

Carolina and Chicago have also been mentioned as possible Brady options, but would have to bench established starters in Cam Newton and Mitch Trubisky respectively.

Brady could also return to the Patriots, although his posting on Instagram, complete with a photo of him running onto the field in uniform, read like a farewell note as he thanked fans for their years of support.

"After a few days of reflection, I am so grateful and humbled by the unconditional support you have shown me the past two decades," Brady wrote.

"Running out of that tunnel every week is a feeling that is hard to explain. I wish every season ended in a win, but that's not the nature of sports (or life). Nobody plays to lose. But the reward for working hard is just that, the work!!"

Brady, the husband of Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, has completed 6,377 of 9,988 pass attempts for 74,571 yards and 541 touchdowns as well as running for 1,037 career yards and 22 touchdowns.

"I have been blessed to find a career I love, teammates who go to battle with me, an organization that believes in me, and fans who have been behind us every step of the way," Brady said.

"We've been rewarded with something that the scoreboard won't show -- the satisfaction of knowing we gave everything to each other in pursuit of a common goal. That is what TEAM is all about."

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