Next Sunday, the Patriots host the Buccaneers in Tom Brady's first game back in New England since he left the franchise in the spring of 2020.
As a result, during his weekly interview on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show" on Monday morning, head coach Bill Belichick was not surprisingly asked about the departure of his former quarterback.
In one exchange, Belichick was asked about all the times over the years he said there was no quarterback the Patriots would rather have than Brady.
"It never changed,” Belichick said when asked if that perspective had shifted.
He was then asked if he had wanted to the team to re-sign Brady after the 2019 campaign.
“Yeah, well I think we’ve been through all the dynamics of that. There were a lot of things there that … he looked at his options and made his decision. We weren’t as good an option as Tampa, so I mean, you’d have to ask him about all of that,” Belichick said. “But that’s really … it wasn’t a question of not wanting him. That’s for sure.”
According to multiple reports at the time of Brady's departure, Brady never came to the franchise with a desire to return and New England never made an offer to him in free agency. Instead, Brady signed a two-year contract with Tampa Bay and promptly led the franchise to a Super Bowl title.
After winning his seventh Super Bowl, Brady also inked an extension with the Buccaneers that locked him in with the franchise through 2022.
This season, the Buccaneers again look like Super Bowl contenders, having gotten out to a 2—1 start. The Patriots, meanwhile, have struggled at times and will enter next Sunday's game at just 1—2.
"Tom and I had a, I feel like a good relationship and a lot of production, obviously, while we were together. And I enjoyed coaching Tom, and he was a great player for us,” Belichick said Monday. “Sunday night, we line up across from Tampa—not just him, but the entire team. They’re obviously a good team. So it’s all about our team competing against Tampa’s team.
"...Certainly Tom is a special player, I’m not trying to put him in the same category as a guy who was here for a year or something like that. But at the same time, you’re competing against the team you are playing against, and that’s what you do.”
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