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Tom Brady to leave New England Patriots
"Our team has always set a great standard... I know it will continue to do just that," says six-time Super Bowl winner Brady
Last Updated: 18/03/20 6:31am
Tom Brady has confirmed he will leave the New England Patriots, the franchise he has played for since he was drafted in 2000.
The 42-year-old quarterback, a record six-time Super Bowl winner, took to Instagram to reveal that with his contract up at Foxborough, he will be leaving Gillette Stadium after 20 years.
"To all my team-mates, coaches, executives and staff, Coach Belichick, RKK and the Kraft family and the entire organization... I couldn't be the man I am today without the relationships you have allowed me to build with you," he wrote.
"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.
"MA [Massachusetts] has been my home for 20 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. I can't thank you enough for the support of our team. The packed training camps and sold-out stadiums are mostly the victory parades. I have been so blessed to share them with you all."
Multiple teams remain in pursuit of Tom Brady and an announcement on his new team is “not likely” to come today, per source. The #Bucs and #Chargers remain in the mix. Sounds like the plan now is for Brady to go dark on everyone until he makes his decision.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 17, 2020
Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Chargers are reportedly the two teams leading the race to sign Brady, who is a free agent.
He says "it is time for me to open a new stage of my life and career", with NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reporting that the two franchises have made big-money offers to the four-time Super Bowl MVP.
Brady had restructured his contract last summer and under the terms of his one-year deal for 2019, he earned $23m but that deal lapsed this week, meaning that as of Monday he could speak to interested parties.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft added more detail, telling NBC's Tom Curran: "We love each other very much. He's like a family member. This is very sad because he's like a son to me."
"This is not the way I wanted it to end, but in life, people need to be free to realize what's important to them. I respect him so much. It was a sad, loving discussion."
"I thought he was coming over as he has for the last 10 years to quietly get things done. This is a big picture. I just don't think he was going to be happy staying in our system at this point."
Famously drafted with the 199th overall pick by the Patriots out of the University of Michigan, Brady went on to succeed Drew Bledsoe in New England and is now regarded as one of the greatest to play the game.
Brady has played in nine Super Bowls in total, lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016 and 2018, when he became the oldest player to win a Super Bowl ring - the sport's most prestigious prize.
Brady, who threw for 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns last year, and the Patriots are coming off their worst season in a decade. Having lost at home to Tennessee in the wild card round, on the back of a Week 17 defeat to Miami that cost them a first-round bye.
He was the league's MVP on three separate occasions but a new chapter now awaits the legendary quarterback. Brady insisted at the end of last season that he was keen to play on despite being 43 when the new season is scheduled to begin in September.
He will now get that opportunity, but away from the franchise where that legend has been forged.
The news also leaves a huge hole for New England to fill. Head coach Bill Belichick has only Jarrett Stidham, a fourth-round Draft pick last year, and Cody Kessler on the roster for the new season and decisions will need to be made as to where the Patriots turn.
A host of quarterbacks, including Philip Rivers and Jameis Winston, are available in Free Agency, while names like Cincinnati's Andy Dalton have also been linked with a move to the Patriots.
There is also the intriguing prospect of a Draft class that may tempt Belichick into a move up the board from their current pick of 23 to claim their signal caller of the future.