NFL

End of an era: Tom Brady leaves Patriots after 20 seasons

The six-time Super Bowl winner has decided to become a free agent in 2020 for the first time in his career despite his new Patriots contract.

End of an era: Tom Brady leaves Patriots after 20 seasons
Mike Segar REUTERS

Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM accomplishments. I have been privileged to have had the opportunity to know each and every one of you, and to have the memories we’ve created together.” Tom Brady used his social media accounts to say goodbye to the New England Patriots in a series of posts on Tuesday morning, bringing an end to a 20-year relationship with the NFL team who drafted him back in 2000.

The 42-year-old quarterback has stated in the past that he wants to play until he is 45 and now he will be eligible for free agency despite allegedly signing a two-year extension on Sunday with the Patriots, according to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport. 

Brady thanks Patriots for storied career

“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,” Brady said. “You all have allowed me to maximize my potential and that is all a player can ever hope for. Everything we 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.”

"I wish every player could experience it"

“I want to say thank you to all of the incredible fans and Patriots supporters. [Massachusetts] has been my home for twenty years. It has truly been the happiest two decades I could have envisioned in my life and I have nothing but love and gratitude for my time in New England,” Brady said. “The support has been overwhelming — I wish every player could experience it. My children were born and raised here and you always embraced this California kid as your own. I love your commitment and loyalty to your teams and winning for our city means more than you will ever know.” Brady continued: “I can’t thank you enough for the support of our team. The packed training camps and sold out stadiums and mostly the victory parades. I have been so blessed to share them with you all. I tried to represent us always in the best and most honorable way, and I fought hard with my teammates to help bring victory and triumph even in the most dire situations. You opened your heart to me, and I opened my heart to you. And Pats Nation will always be a part of me. I don’t know what my football future holds but it is time for me to open a new stage for my life and career. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I will always love you and what we have shared — a lifetime full of fun memories.”

With Brady becoming a free agent it appears that only two teams are in the running to land the six time Super Bowl winner: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Chargers. As of Monday National Football League clubs are allowed to negotiate with the agents of prospective unrestricted free agents during a two-day period.

The news shocked many people involved in the NFL, including Patriots owner Robert Kraft who said he was very saddened by Tom Brady’s decision. “I didn’t want this to happen, I didn’t want this to end like this after 20 years but he has earned the right to make his own decision after what he did for us. I love him like a son.”

It was Kraft who also used to tell the story of how he met Brady after the Patriots drafted him with the 199th pick back in 2000: “I remember right before pre-season started I ran into him in the parking lot, he was eating a slice of pizza and he told me that choosing him was the best decision this franchise could ever make, and boy he was right.”

Brady was named the league’s MVP in 2007, 2010 and 2017, he has been named to 14 Pro Bowls and three All-Pro First Teams. He also owns the most Offensive Player of the Week awards, with 30.

No quarterback has ever won as many games as Brady, and if regular season stats are combined with postseason stats, no quarterback has as many passing yards or touchdowns. Brady’s numbers decreased from past seasons in 2019, when he threw for 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns with 8 interceptions. In the playoff loss at home to Tennessee Titans, he completed 20 of 37 passes for 209 yards with no touchdowns and a pick-six at the end.

Days after that loss, Brady posted on Instagram that he intended to return to football, stating, “I know I still have more to prove.” Since then, months of speculation and borderline hysteria has surrounded Brady, as the football world waited to learn what the future would hold for the greatest quarterback of all time.