Tom Brady: Decision to Leave Patriots for Bucs Not a 'Spur of the Moment Thing'August 17, 2020
Tom Brady's breakup with the New England Patriots was not some heated, emotional decision. In fact, he says it's something he was considering for a while.
"I made a decision to do something different," Brady told Peter King of NBC Sports. "It was a very thoughtful decision. It wasn't a spur of the moment thing. Really since the moment I got here they've embraced me. They've embraced me with the opportunity to go and lead the team—that's a big responsibility for me."
The signs Brady wanted out of New England date back at least a year, from putting his house on the market to negotiating a contract that barred the Patriots from using the franchise or transition tag after the 2019 season. Brady's Players' Tribune article explaining his decision in April all but acknowledged he wanted to see what he could accomplish outside the shadow of Bill Belichick.
The Brady-Belichick pairing was the most successful tandem in NFL history, with both setting records with their six Super Bowl championships. However, the strain began to show in the latter part of their relationship. Reports of tension date back at least a few years, many related to Brady stepping outside the so-called "Patriot Way."
Brady will be getting his chance to make a mark outside New England at a point in his career where his status among the game's current greats is far from secure. He spent most of the second half of last season struggling with his accuracy, completing fewer than 60 percent of his passes in seven of his final eight games.
While Brady will have far better skill-position talent surrounding him in Tampa—Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard, Ronald Jones II—he'll also be playing in a system that could make his weaknesses more glaring. Jameis Winston averaged 10.5 intended air yards per attempt last season, nearly three more yards per pass than Brady (7.6).
The Patriots offense included regular check-downs to running backs over the last few years; those don't typically exist in a Bruce Arians attack. It's likely there will be some adjustments made on both sides for comfort, but the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for Brady and Arians to work together the entire offseason. The extended training camp may help matters, but it'll be worth watching to see what the Bucs offense looks like Week 1.