Tom Brady to leave New England Patriots, play elsewhere next season

Tom Brady announced Tuesday he is leaving the New England Patriots after 20 seasons and six Super Bowl titles, saying his football journey “will take place elsewhere.”

Brady made the announcement on his Instagram account while thanking team owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick.

“To all my teammates, coaches, executives and staff, Coach Belichick, RKK, and the Kraft family and the entire organization. I want to say thank you for the past twenty years of my life and the daily commitment to winning and creating a winning culture built on great values. I am grateful for all that you have taught me – I have learned from everyone. You all have allowed me to maximize my potential and that is all a player can hope for. Everything we have accomplished brings me great joy and the lessons I have learned will carry on with me forever. I couldn’t be the man I am today without the relationships you have allowed me to build with you. I have benefited from all you have given me. I cherished every opportunity I had to be a part of our team, and I love you all for that. Our team has always set a great standard in pro sports and I know it will continue to do just that.

“Although my football journey will take play elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM accomplishments. I have been privileged to have the opportunity to know each and everyone of you, and to have the memories we’ve created together.”

The lengthy posted was captioned: “FOREVER A PATRIOT.”

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The Patriots selected Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft out of Michigan. He got a chance to start for the team in his second season in 2001 when Drew Bledsoe went down with an injury. He took the reins from there and never looked back. He helped the Patriots to a Super Bowl and firmly put himself into the driver’s seat of the offense and the organization.

Brady won the NFL MVP award three times with New England, was selected to the Pro Bowl 14 times and was an All-Pro three times. He was named the 2009 AP Comeback Player of the Year and won the AP Offensive Player of the Year award in 2007 and 2010.

The noise about Brady potentially leaving the Patriots began during the 2019 season. While the rumblings were small, Brady didn’t exactly commit to playing for the Patriots in 2020 while talking to reporters in training camp in August. He acknowledged that he had one year on his deal left but said: “we’ll see what happens.” He said that he plans to play until he was 45.

Brady started to talk about his future more in October. He said in a radio interview that there will be a time where he has had “enough,” but those decisions will be coming at the “appropriate times.”

“That is the great part for me, I don’t know,” Brady told WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.” “I think that has been a unique situation that I have been in because I think when you commit to a team for a certain amount of years you kind of feel like [there is] the responsibility to always fulfill the contract.”

He added: “For me, it’s been good because I am just taking it day-by-day and I am enjoying what I have. I don’t know what the future holds and the great part is for me, football at this point is all borrowed time.”

Days later, he told Jim Gray on his Westwood One radio program that “nothing has changed” for him and that the goal was still to play until he was 45.

“I don’t know why it’s being brought up,” Brady said. “I had a good quote that came to mind. Somebody told me that ‘the past and the future are in the mind. I’m in the now,’ and I think that’s a great way to live life. I’m not thinking about many things beyond this week.”

He added: “It’s probably that time of year where you don’t need to focus so much on the wins and losses, you start focusing on a lot of other things and I think the media has the right to do that. I certainly don’t. I’m focused on what I need to do this year.”

Brady said he was focused on staying healthy, something he was adamant about in August.

Brady’s trainer, Alex Guerrero, added a new wrinkle into the quarterback’s future in November. He said in a radio interview that his client planned to play until he was 46 or 47.

“No one thought you could play at the elite level in your late 30s, early 40s. That is something we always felt we could do. I have really wanted to be there to help him accomplish that goal. I certainly do believe that 45 is a very realistic goal,” Guerrero said

Guerrero added: “We talk about it all the time. Every year he just adds another year. He goes in and he’s like, ‘Guys, I feel so good still. I think I am going to go till 45.’ I am like, ‘OK.’ Now he’s like, ‘Alex, I think I can go like 46 or 47.’”

As Brady’s performances on the field appeared to diminish, questions about Brady’s future got louder. He had 24 touchdown passes, 4,057 passing yards and eight interceptions in 2019. But over his last eight games, his completion rate was only at 57 percent and he only just 11 touchdown passes. He also took 14 sacks in that span.

Brady mentioned in a “Today” interview that even his mother or wife would prefer that he retired because they hate seeing him take hits on the field.

Brady’s adamant line about playing until he was 45 was tweaked just a bit on Dec. 23 in a separate interview with Gray.

“I think I’ve said for a long time, my tune hasn’t changed, I hope to continue playing,” Brady said. “I’ve had long-term goals, I’ve had short-term goals, football is a contact sport, you never know when your last game is going to be and you should count your blessing every time you walk off the field healthy.”

Health became a huge factor toward the end of the year. Brady was battling tennis elbow and reportedly suffered a foot injury in December. It could have hampered him during the team’s playoff loss against the Tennessee Titans. After the game, Brady addressed once again whether he would retire.

“I would say it’s pretty unlikely,” Brady said, adding “hopefully unlikely.”

“I love the Patriots. It’s the greatest organization. Playing for Mr. [Robert] Kraft all these years, and for Coach [Bill] Belichick, there’s nobody who’s had a better career, I would say, than me — just being with them. So I’m very blessed,” he said.

“I don’t know what the future looks like, so I’m not going to predict it.”

While the AFC wild card game may have been his last at Gillette Stadium, fans hoping he would stay greeted him with raucous chants and even signs that read, “Please Stay Tommy.”

“I personally appreciate everything they’ve contributed — not just this year, but a lot of years,” he said. “Just very grateful for the experience playing this year for the team, this organization, and over the course of my career, too. I appreciate it. I hope I’ve always tried to do the right thing out there. Who knows what the future holds? So I’ll leave it at that.”

He added: “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m not going to predict it. No one needs to make choices at this point. I love playing football. I love playing for this team. I’ve loved playing for this team for two decades and winning a lot of games. I don’t know what it looks like moving forward, so we’ll just take it day-to-day.”

In early January, after losing to the Titans, Brady posted an Instagram picture with a caption saying he had “more to prove.” He didn’t mention anything about returning to the Patriots.

Brady also teased a possible announcement days before Super Bowl LIV. However, the tease was for a Hulu advertisement in which he vowed he wasn’t going anywhere.

It’s unclear what Brady does now. His contract will void Wednesday and it appears the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the major players for the quarterback.

According to multiple reports, the Buccaneers are rumored to “pull out all the stops” and have already made “an aggressive pitch” to the legendary quarterback.

The latest tidbit of information surrounding Brady and free agency came two days after WEEI’s Dale Arnold revealed Brady was offered a one-year contract for less than what he made last year. The offer was reportedly made during a conversation Brady and coach Bill Belichick had earlier this month.

According to ESPN, Brady has two demands when deciding which team he is going to play for next. He wants to be a part of the roster construction and wants to be a part of the decision-making on offensive play calls.

Brady and the Patriots won the AFC East title last season but were eliminated in the wild-card round of the playoffs. He had 4,057 passing yards and 24 touchdown passes in the 16 games.

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