NEW England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is ready for turn the page after 20 years with Tom Brady.
Brady signed a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, putting the Patriots in unfamiliar and uncertain territory entering the 2020 NFL Draft.
But Belichick, who coached Brady every day of the quarterback’s New England tenure, struck a familiar refrain on Monday when he was asked about the team’s status without the face of the franchise.
“It would be of course impossible to sum up everything Tom did in 20 years into a comment, then or now,” Belichick said. “Right now we’re moving forward and focused on the draft here on this call.”
Brady, 42, said recently he knew before the start of the 2019 season that it would be his final season with the Patriots. He signed a restructured contract that blocked the Patriots from using the franchise tag to retain him. It was Brady’s first foray into free agency.
Brady said in a letter posted by The Players’ Tribune that he chose to join the Buccaneers because he wanted to be “seen and heard.”
But he said last week in an interview with Howard Stern that he held no ill will toward the Patriots or Belichick.
“No, absolutely not,” Brady said. “No, because this is a part for me, in my life, to experience something very different. There are ways for me to grow and evolve in a different way that I haven’t had the opportunity to do — that aren’t right or wrong, but just right for me.”
Belichick released a lengthy statement on Brady’s departure on March 17.
“Tom and I will always have a great relationship built on love, admiration, respect and appreciation. Tom’s success as a player and his character as a person are exceptional. Nothing about the end of Tom’s Patriots career changes how unfathomably spectacular it was. 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,” Belichick said.
How the Patriots eventually define moving forward on the field without Brady remains to be seen. Jarrett Stidham, drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 draft, is considered the likely starter. Veteran Brian Hoyer agreed to come back for another tour with the Patriots, but his signing has not yet been made official.
The Patriots have the 23rd pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft next week but don’t have a second-round pick.