Tom Brady has announced that he will not return to the New England Patriots for the upcoming season.
He announced his decision in a post titled "Forever A Patriot." According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, despite the note, Brady has not made a decision on where he will play next season and is still exploring his options.
“To all my teammates, coaches, executives and staff, Coach Belichick, RKK and the Kraft family and the entire organization," Brady wrote. "I want to say thank you for the past twenty years of my life and the daily commitment to winning and creating a winning club 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 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 cherish every opportunity I had to be a part of our team, and I love you all for it. 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 appreciated 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.”
The 42-year-old Brady has never tested the open market before this offseason and questions about his future picked up steam upon the Patriots' sudden Wild Card round loss to the Titans.
That night, Brady made clear to reporters that retirement was "pretty unlikely.” When asked about his future, however, he said, "I’m not going to predict it.”
In the weeks since that January loss, countless voices in and around the NFL have weighed in on Brady's possible decision. Robert Kraft told NBC Sports' Peter King on Monday, Jan. 6 that “My hope and prayer is number one, he plays for the Patriots. Or number two, he retires.” Kraft added that “nobody respects Tom more than I do," but that he understood that process is “not a one-way street.”
Joe Montana, a fellow star QB who changed teams late in his career, told NFL Media, “It’s not easy to go to another team and get accepted, no matter how much success you’ve had and how many years you’ve played." A cryptic social media post just days before the Super Bowl led to additional conversations.
Albert Breer of The MMQB reports that, as recently as Monday, there were people in the Patriot organization hoping for a summit between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. But that summit never happened, per Breer.
Despite making 14 Pro Bowls with the Patriots and winning six Super Bowls, Brady's production has slipped in recent years. He threw for just 4,035 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2019. His completion percentage (60.8%) was also his lowest since 2013.
New England finished last year's regular season with a 12-4 record. But a late-season loss to Miami dropped the team out of a top-two seed in the AFC Conference and set up a first-round matchup with the Titans.
The Patriots initially selected Brady with the No. 199 pick in the 2000 NFL draft.