Tom Brady — the man who tormented the NFL for two decades — announced on social media that he will not be returning to the New England Patriots for the 2020 season.
“Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible team accomplishments,” Brady wrote. “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.”
The legal tampering period of NFL free agency opened on Monday, allowing teams to negotiate with player agents. Several deals have already been agreed to, but players cannot officially sign until Wednesday.
Brady officially becomes an unrestricted free agent tomorrow where he can sign with a new team — one that is out of an AFC East division that has been plagued by the Patriots for the better part of 20 years.
He will depart the Patriots as their most important face on franchise’s Mt. Rushmore. The 42-year-old — along with head coach Bill Belichick — put New England on the football map by becoming the most successful franchise of the past 20 years with 18 winning seasons, 17 AFC East division titles, 17 trips to the playoffs, nine AFC Championships, and six Super Bowl titles.
Within that extended dynasty, Brady flourished as one of the greatest quarterbacks in franchise history with 74,571 and 541 touchdown passes.
“Tommy initiated contact last night and came over. We had a positive, respectful discussion,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft told ESPN on Tuesday. “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.”
While his better days are certainly behind him as he stares down his 43rd birthday in August, Brady still had a productive 2019 season within a Patriots team that lacked bona fide playmakers.
That production of 4,000-plus yards and 24 touchdowns has two known teams interested, though his market isn’t as bountiful as once predicted.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Chargers are believed to be the two favorites for Brady’s signature after both franchises moved on from their marquee quarterbacks in Jameis Winston and Philip Rivers.
Brady’s announcement was the headliner of a dizzying day that featured some other big quarterback news.
The Carolina Panthers are pursuing trade talks involving Cam Newton and are planning to sign former Vikings, Jets and Saints play-caller, Teddy Bridgewater.