The Patriots and Tom Brady went in drastically different directions following their separation after two decades together.
New England in 2020 missed the NFL playoffs and posted the franchise’s worst regular-season record since Bill Belichick’s first campaign in Foxboro in 2000. Brady, meanwhile, helped the Bucs reach the postseason for the first time since 2007 and ultimately guided Tampa Bay to the second Super Bowl championship in the organization’s history.
Robert Kraft, as he recently explained to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, wanted to keep Brady in the fold beyond the 2019 season. Still, it doesn’t sound as though the Patriots owner is harvesting any feelings of bitterness after watching Brady lead a new team to football’s promised land.
“Well, I was really happy for him,” Kraft told Breer. “He?s a great guy and he gave us 20 wonderful years, and he made the choice to do what he wanted to do. Look, I wasn?t that happy to see him leave, but we gave him that opportunity to do it. And I want to say if we?re not going to win, and someone?s got to do it, I?m happy for him. He deserves it.”
Kraft laughed as he followed up with, “I?m not normally that polite.”
Brady’s Bucs kept their foot on the gas pedal after hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Tampa Bay was able to retain the majority of its key free agents, including wide receiver Chris Godwin and linebackers Shaq Barrett and Lavonte David. The Bucs’ offseason body of work might only be outdone by the Patriots, who used their wealth of salary cap space to fill critical voids with high-end players.
Tampa Bay is set to visit New England during the 2021 regular season, and after how last week transpired, the impending matchup has become all the more intriguing.