Why Tom Brady Left the Patriots for the Bucs

Luke Easterling

Few people actually expected Tom Brady to leave the New England Patriots after 20 years, six Super Bowl victories, and three NFL MVP awards.

Even fewer people expected the greatest quarterback of all time to leave the Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of the least-successful franchises in NFL history. But that's exactly what Brady did as the 2020 offseason began, ending two decades of dynastic success with the Pats, and setting sail for Tampa Bay. 

Why leave New England? And why choose the Bucs? Brady addressed both during a two-hour interview with Howard Stern on Wednesday.

“This is a part for me in my life to experience something very different," Brady told Stern. "There’s ways for me to grow and evolve in a different way that I haven’t had the opportunity to do. I never cared about legacy. I never once in high school said, ‘Man, I can’t wait for what my football legacy looks like.’ That’s not me, that’s not my personality."

“Why would I choose a different place?" Brady continued. "It’s because it was just time. I don’t know what to say other than that. I accomplished everything I could in two decades with an incredible organization, an incredible group of people, and that will never change. No one can ever take that away from me. No one can ever take those experiences or Super Bowl championships away from us.”

Brady came up with an extensive list of things he wanted out of his next team and city, and thankfully for the Bucs and their fans, it lined up nicely with what they brought to the table.

“I wrote down about 20 different things that were important to me, and then I prioritized what was important,” Brady said. “I kind of scaled it and looked at all the different opportunities that were out there. There are family decisions. My son, Jack, lives in New York and in the end, being close to him ends up being really important. Playing with really good players is important. I’ve obviously had that with the Patriots forever, but I wanted to continue to play with great players. Coaching was important. It’s the first time I’ll play in a warm climate, which I thought was pretty great.”

Brady brings a truckload of championship experience to a team that hasn't won a playoff game in 18 years. But the Bucs have built a strong supporting cast for him on both sides of the ball, including a pair of Pro Bowl receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and a defense led by key veterans like Lavonte Davis, Jason Pierre-Paul and NFL sack leader Shaq Barrett.

The move may still have many scratching their heads, but to Brady, it seems to make perfect sense.