If you’re hoping Tom Brady hasn’t played his last game with the Patriots, Robert Kraft is right there with you.
Brady’s 20th campaign in New England ended earlier than the majority of his seasons with the only NFL franchise he’s ever known. The Patriots on Saturday fell to the sixth-seeded Tennessee Titans, suffering their second disappointing loss in Foxboro in as many weeks.
A fascinating offseason now awaits Brady, who in March will become a free agent for the first time in his career. While the future Hall of Famer himself doesn’t seem to have given the situation extensive thought quite yet, Kraft is crossing his fingers in hopes of Brady carrying on with the Patriots.
“Before the season started, it was very important to Tom that he be free to do whatever he wanted at the end of the year,” the Patriots owner told NBC Sports’ Peter King. “You know what I said to myself? That any person who plays 20 years for this team and helps us get to six Super Bowls, and been really selfless, has earned that right. I love the young man like he’s part of my family. Blood family. Anyone who’s done that has earned the right to control his future after 20 years. And you know, my hope and prayer is number one, he play for the Patriots. Or number two, he retires. He has the freedom to decide what he wants to do and what’s in his own best personal interest.”
Kraft continued: “I’m thinking of all that, of all the quarterbacks who went elsewhere, and I just hope and believe that Tom . . . he is so special that he’s earned the right to do what’s best for him. . . . But I just hope and pray we fit into his plans. He is unique in the kind of leader he is, his work ethic, his selfless nature, everything. Think about it: He’s been with us 20 percent of the life of the NFL.”
While Brady obviously will be the focal point of all Patriots-related offseason chatter, he’s just one of 19 New England players set to hit the open market in a few short months. As such, Kraft, Bill Belichick and Co. could be in store for a franchise-altering spring.
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