Tom Brady Announces He Will Not Return to Patriots: 'Forever a Patriot'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2020

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on from the sideline during the second half against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeat the Jets 41-3. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

For the first time in his career, Tom Brady will play his home games outside Foxborough, Massachusetts, after he announced Tuesday he will not return to the New England Patriots:

Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston reported there was "no negotiation" between Brady and the Patriots, "just the intimation that it was on Brady to say what he wanted. For Brady, that stance spoke volumes."

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the quarterback "has not made a decision on where he will play next season and he will be exploring his options."

As for those options, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the Tampa Bay Buccaneers "made a strong offer" to Brady worth $30 million per season "or more," as did the Los Angeles Chargers.

One team that apparently won't be in the mix is the Indianapolis Colts. Ed Werder of ESPN reported the team isn't in the market for Brady as "it appears" Philip Rivers is a "better possibility."

Brady, 42, will go down as arguably the greatest quarterback, and perhaps player, in NFL history. The superstar is a six-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Super Bowl MVP, 14-time Pro Bowler and three-time NFL MVP. After becoming the starter in 2001, he led the Patriots to 17 AFC East titles, 17 postseason berths and nine trips to the Super Bowl.

He's also second all-time in passing touchdowns (541) and second in passing yards (74,571). No coach and quarterback duo has won more regular-season games (219) and postseason games (30) than Bill Belichick and Brady, and it's not close.

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"Tommy initiated contact last night and came over," Patriots owner Robert Kraft told Mike Reiss of ESPN. "We had a positive, respectful discussion. It's not the way I want it to end, but I want him to do what is in his best personal interest. After 20 years with us, he has earned that right. I love him like a son"

Brady famously was a sixth-round pick in the 2000 NFL draft (No. 199 overall) and started his career as Drew Bledsoe's backup. When Bledsoe was injured in the second game of the 2001 season, Brady stepped in and led the team to an 11-3 record the rest of the regular season and a Super Bowl title.

The starting job has been Brady's since, marking one of the longest stretches of dominance in professional sports.

The only blights on his resume are the two major Patriots scandals throughout the years, Spygate and Deflategate, the latter of which directly involved the signal-caller. But his composure under pressure in late-game situations and his longevity, consistency and success make him perhaps the most decorated player in NFL history.

Eschewing retirement for at least another season won't surprise many. But leaving the Patriots is a surprise. Seeing Brady play for another team will be strange in 2020. New decade, new Brady.

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