NFL | Tom Brady confirms Patriots departure
Six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady has confirmed his departure from the New England Patriots.
Brady, who joined the Patriots as the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL draft, is now a free agent following the expiration of the one-year deal he signed in 2019.
The 42-year-old has won four Super Bowl Most Valuable Player awards, has played in nine Super Bowls in total, and has set a plethora of NFL records in a staggeringly successful 20-year career with the New England club.
There has been intense speculation over Brady's future at the Patriots in recent months, following the team's defeat to Tennessee Titans in the NFL play-offs, with Los Angeles Chargers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers both linked with the veteran quarterback.
Brady threw for 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns last year.
The American, who lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016 and 2018, has now confirmed his departure from the club, posting an emotional farewell on Twitter.
"To all my team-mates, coaches, executives and staff, Coach Belichick, RKK and the Kraft family and the entire organization... I couldn't be the man I am today without the relationships you have allowed me to build with you," he wrote.
"Our team has always set a great standard in pro sports and I know it will continue to do just that. Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM accomplishments.
"MA [Massachusetts] has been my home for 20 years. It has truly been the happiest two decades I could have envisioned in my life and I have nothing but love and gratitude for my time in New England.
"The support has been overwhelming - I wish every player could experience it. I can't thank you enough for the support of our team. The packed training camps and sold-out stadiums are mostly the victory parades. I have been so blessed to share them with you all."
FOREVER A PATRIOT pic.twitter.com/QSBOJBs4uy — Tom Brady (@TomBrady) March 17, 2020
Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who signed Brady in 2000, paid tribute to the player in a statement.
The duo have formed an iconic relationship over the past two decades, bringing enormous success to New England.
"Sometimes in life, it takes some time to pass before truly appreciating something or someone but that has not been the case with Tom," Belichick said.
"He is a special person and the greatest quarterback of all-time."
Belichick's remaining quarterback options are Jarrett Stidham, a fourth-round Draft pick last year, and Cody Kessler.