Tom Brady is leaving the New England Patriots

(NEW YORK) — Tom Brady is leaving the New England Patriots, the star quarterback announced in a statement Tuesday morning.

“I don’t know what my football future holds, but it is time for me to open a new stage of my life and career,” Brady said.

 

LOVE YOU PATS NATION pic.twitter.com/lxSQZmnjPL

— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) March 17, 2020

 

He did not mention where he’s headed but added, “My football journey will take place elsewhere.”

“I cherished every opportunity I had to be a part of our team,” he said of his 20-year run in New England.

 

FOREVER A PATRIOT pic.twitter.com/QSBOJBs4uy

— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) March 17, 2020

 

The Patriots released statements from owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick following Brady’s announcement.

“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,” Kraft said.

While he “hoped this day would never come,” Kraft said he wanted to see Brady “end his remarkable career in a Patriots uniform” but both parties 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,” Kraft said.

Robert Kraft to ESPN: “Tommy initiated contact last night & came over. 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”

— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) March 17, 2020

Kraft continued, “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.”

As the Brady and Belicheck era comes to an end, the head coach said, “Sometimes in life, it takes some time to pass before truly appreciating something or someone but that has not been the case with Tom. He is a special person and the greatest quarterback of all-time.”

“Tom was not just a player who bought into our program. He was one of its original creators,” Belichick said. “He didn’t just perform. He didn’t just win. He won championships over and over again.”

He continued, “With his relentless competitiveness and longevity, he earned everyone’s adoration and will be celebrated forever. It has been a privilege to coach Tom Brady for 20 years.”

Kraft previously told ESPN that Brady reached out Monday and had a discussion about the decision in person.

Robert Kraft to ESPN: “Tommy initiated contact last night & came over. 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”

— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) March 17, 2020

Monday marked the official start of free agency, when teams are permitted to negotiate with free agents from other clubs.

Free agent players, including Brady, are free to sign with any team once the new league year officially begins at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, a league source said that Brady has not yet made a decision on where he will play and will explore his options.

In the 2000 draft, he was the 199th pick overall.

Brady, 42, leaves New England with 41 playoff starts since 2001, has played in nine Super Bowls, won six and notched four Super Bowl MVP awards.

Tom Brady had an incredible 20-year run with New England 👏

🔺 6x Super Bowl winner
🔺 4x Super Bowl MVP
🔺 3x Regular-Season MVP
🔺 2nd All-time pass yards
🔺 2nd All-time pass TD
🔺 1st All-time wins
🔺 14x Pro Bowl Selection pic.twitter.com/ktbLTGat7X

— ESPN (@espn) March 17, 2020

Among his many accomplishments, Brady also has three league MVP awards — 2007, 2010, 2017 — which according to ESPN ties him with Jim Brown, Brett Favre and Johnny Unitas. Peyton Manning holds the record for MVP titles.

Brady has led the Patriots to at least 12 regular-season wins 13 times, an all-time high.

Recently, Brady also became the first 42-year-old quarterback in NFL history to start every game in a regular season.

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