Brady leaving New England Patriots, says ‘football journey’ is elsewhere

BOSTON (WHDH) - Tom Brady, the centerpiece of the New England Patriots’ championship dynasty over the past two decades, says he is leaving the only professional football home he has ever had.

The 42-year-old six-time Super Bowl winner posted Tuesday on social media “my football journey will take place elsewhere.”

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The comments were the first to indicate that the most-decorated player in NFL history would leave New England. Statements later by Patriots owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick made it clear that Brady’s remarkable stint in New England is over.

In a two-part message, Brady thanked the Patriots and the fans and said “FOREVER A PATRIOT.”

“I don’t know what my football future holds, but it is time for me to open a new stage for my life and my career,” he wrote. “Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM experiences.”

The one-year contract Brady signed before last season expires Wednesday afternoon, and his agent could negotiate a deal with another team on Tuesday, though it can’t be official yet. He will count $13.5 million toward New England’s salary cap due to the signing bonus money he received in 2019.

Kraft said of Brady: “I had hoped this day would never come, but rather that Tom would end his remarkable career in a Patriots uniform after yet another Super Bowl championship. Unfortunately, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement to allow that dream to become a reality. While sad today, the overwhelming feeling I have is appreciation for his countless contributions to our team and community.”

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A four-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player and three-time league MVP, Brady has been the enduring face of the Patriots during a run that added another layer to Boston’s already rich sports history. Only Bill Russell, who won 11 NBA championship rings in the 1950s and ’60s with the Celtics, has won more titles as a member of one of New England’s four major professional sports teams.

Brady would be the oldest starting quarterback in the league at 43 at the beginning of next season. The Colts, Buccaneers, Chargers and Dolphins are among the teams expected to be in a Brady derby.

Brady arguably is coming off his worst non-injury season. He threw for 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2019, with eight interceptions. But he completed fewer than 56% of his passes six times in the final eight games of the year, including a season-ending loss to Miami that cost the Patriots a first-round playoff bye.

They lost at home to the Titans in the wild-card round, Brady’s earliest postseason exit in a decade — and likely his last game in a Patriots uniform.

Brady had a one-year contract for 2019 that paid him $23 million, placing him 10th among starting quarterbacks. It was the latest renegotiation by Brady to help give the Patriots salary cap flexibility to fill out the roster.

The chief decision-maker in player personnel decisions, Belichick hasn’t been shy about moving on from players he felt were past their prime or seeking contracts that exceeded value in relation to their age. Belichick has severed ties with players much younger than Brady during his time in New England.

“Nothing about the end of Tom’s Patriots career changes how unfathomably spectacular it was,” said Belichick, whose current quarterback is untested second-year player Jarrett Stidham. “With his relentless competitiveness and longevity, he earned everyone’s adoration and will be celebrated forever. It has been a privilege to coach Tom Brady for 20 years.”

After franchising offensive lineman Joe Thuney and coming to terms on new deals with Matt Slater and Devin McCourty, the Patriots have only about $18 million in salary cap space.

Read Brady’s full message below:

FOREVER A PATRIOT

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 ever 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 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 everyone of you, and to have the memories we’ve created together.

LOVE YOU PATS NATION

I wanted to say thank you to the incredible fans and Patriots supporters. MA 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. 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. 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 furure 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.

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