For the first time since 1999, the New England Patriots will enter a season without Tom Brady on their roster.
The surefire Hall of Fame quarterback announced Tuesday he is leaving the Patriots after 20 seasons and six Super Bowl titles. Shortly after that seismic announcement, team owner Robert Kraft offered his reaction to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss. Kraft said he was disappointed by Brady’s decision but respected it.
“Tommy initiated contact last night and came over,” Kraft told Reiss. “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.”
The Patriots enjoyed unparalleled success during Brady’s tenure, reaching nine Super Bowls and 13 AFC Championship Games.
It remains unclear both where Brady will play this season — he reportedly has not yet decided — and who New England’s starting quarterback will be. The top internal option is 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham, who played sparingly as a rookie while learning under Brady.
Third-stringer Cody Kessler also remains under contract, and the Patriots surely will add at least one additional signal-caller via free agency, trade or the 2020 NFL Draft.