Re­port: Brady to leave Patriots for Buc­ca­neers

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - SPORTS - By Jon Becker

Leg­endary quar­ter­back Tom Brady will leave New Eng­land, where he and the Patriots won six Su­per Bowl ti­tles dur­ing a glo­ri­ous 20-year run, and sign a free-agent con­tract with the Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers, ac­cord­ing to mul­ti­ple re­ports Tues­day.

Just more proof we’re in­deed liv­ing in the strangest of times.

The dec­o­rated 42-year-old quar­ter­back from San Ma­teo, al­ready con­sid­ered by many as the game’s great­est ever at his po­si­tion, stunned the sports world Tues­day morn­ing by of­fi­cially say­ing good­bye to the only NFL fran­chise he’s ever

known.

“My foot­ball jour­ney will take me else­where,” Brady said in an In­sta­gram post while giv­ing thanks to all in a farewell to the Bos­ton area.

ESPN first re­ported Brady will head south for Tampa to con­tinue a ca­reer he hopes will last un­til he’s at least 45. The NFL Net­work re­ported Tues­day night Brady and the Bucs have “agreed in prin­ci­ple” on a con­tract.

The Los An­ge­les Charg­ers were ru­mored to be among the most ag­gres­sive of Brady’s suit­ors, but they were re­port­edly told Tues­day he still pre­ferred to keep his fam­ily back east dur­ing foot­ball sea­son.

Wed­nes­day is the first day of the NFL sea­son, when play­ers can of­fi­cially sign free-agent con­tracts and make trades. Brady is ex­pected to put pen to pa­per and be­come the day’s big­gest news­maker.

Brady, a for­mer Serra High of San Ma­teo star who grew up a diehard 49ers fan and re­port­edly wanted the next step of his sto­ried ca­reer to take place with

the 49ers, set­tles for a still de­cent op­por­tu­nity for suc­cess in Florida.

The Buc­ca­neers, who fin­ished third in the NFC South with a 7-9 record un­der the di­rec­tion of mis­take-prone quar­ter­back Jameis Win­ston, could be a force in the con­fer­ence with Brady and a solid de­fense.

Buc­ca­neers gen­eral man­ager Ja­son Licht would only ac­knowl­edge to ESPN his team has been in touch with Brady but that no deal was in place as of Tues­day morn­ing.

“We’re wait­ing to see what Tom de­cides just like ev­ery­body else,” Licht said.

Nonethe­less, af­ter years of tak­ing team-friendly con­tracts to help the Patriots dy­nasty en­dure, Brady is ex­pected to now earn more than $30 per sea­son on his new deal.

That’s still a pretty de­cent deal for the Buc­ca­neers in or­der to bring aboard a 14-time Pro Bowler, six­time Su­per Bowl champ and three-time league MVP.

Brady will re­place Win­ston, who threw for 5,109

yards and 33 touch­downs for the Bucs, but off­set that with a league-lead­ing 30 in­ter­cep­tions. Dur­ing his five sea­sons with Tampa Bay, no one in the league has had more turnovers than Win­ston, who has an as­tound­ing 111 turnovers in 72 ca­reer games — an av­er­age of 22 give­aways per year.

Brady, though, also showed a bit of a de­cline this past sea­son as his 88.0 quar­ter­back rat­ing was his sec­ond-low­est in the past 11

years. Brady still threw for 4,057 yards, 24 touch­downs and just eight in­ter­cep­tions to help lead the Patriots to a 12-4 record and their 17th AFC East ti­tle in 20 years. No quar­ter­back in league his­tory has won more di­vi­sion ti­tles — or Su­per Bowl ti­tles — for one team.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft told ESPN that Brady in­formed him Mon­day night he was mov­ing on.

“Tommy ini­ti­ated con­tact last night and came over.

We had a pos­i­tive, re­spect­ful dis­cus­sion,” Kraft said. “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.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who’s teamed with Brady to form the win­ningest coach/quar­ter­back duo in NFL his­tory, re­leased a state­ment in which he hon­ored his now for­mer quar­ter­back.

“Tom and I will al­ways have a great re­la­tion­ship built on love, ad­mi­ra­tion, re­spect and ap­pre­ci­a­tion,” Belichick said. “Tom’s suc­cess as a player and his char­ac­ter as a per­son are ex­cep­tional.”

In clos­ing, Belichick said it was a “priv­i­lege to coach Tom Brady for 20 years.”

The most touch­ing re­sponse to Brady’s de­ci­sion to leave the Patriots came from a fel­low star from San Ma­teo County, team­mate Ju­lian Edel­man of Red­wood City.

Edel­man’s mes­sage was a brief one as he cap­tioned a pic­ture of him­self jog­ging along­side Brady with just one word: “Fam­ily.”

Brady com­mented on Edel­man’s post by sim­ply say­ing, “Love you Jules.”

Brady

DAVID J. PHILLIP — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS, FILE

Tom Brady, left, hugs coach Bill Belichick af­ter the 2018AFC cham­pi­onship game against the Jaguars in Foxbor­ough, Mass. The 42-year-old quar­ter­back with six Su­per Bowl rings said Tues­day morn­ing that he is leav­ing the New Eng­land Patriots.

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