New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft says Tom Brady informed him about his decision to leave the team on Monday night, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss.
"Tommy initiated contact last night & came over," Kraft told ESPN. "We had a positive, respectful discussion. 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"
Kraft also released the following statement on Tuesday morning:
"How do I possibly sum up the depth of my gratitude to Tom Brady for what he's given us these past 20 years, or the sadness I feel knowing it's ending? I love Tom like a son and I always will. He has brought so much happiness to me personally and to all of our fans. 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.
"When Tom arrived in New England as an unheralded, sixth-round pick, no one could have imagined the fairytale story that would be written, the records that would be broken or the joy he would bring to an entire region. He leaves 20 years later as the winningest quarterback in NFL history with six Super Bowl victories, nine AFC titles and 17 division championships. He has been an exemplary teammate and leader. There simply will never be another Tom Brady. I now look forward to the day we can bring him back home to New England to celebrate his Patriots career, his endless achievements and his legacy as the greatest of all time. I love him very much.",
Brady announced his decision on social media with a note titled, "FOREVER A PATRIOT."
"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.
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.
Kraft has deferred to head coach Bill Belichick in the negotiation process and told NBC Sports that he was hoping Brady would remain a Patriot or retire. Albert Breer of the MMQB reports that, as recently as Monday, there were people in the Patriot organization hoping that a summit between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick but it never happened.
Brady's time in New England ends with six Super Bowl titles, four Super Bowl MVP awards, three MVP awards, 17 division titles and 13 conference title game appearances.