For the first time in 10 years, the New England Patriots will not be playing in the AFC Divisional Playoffs. But even more significant, the Patriots may have seen their franchise-defining quarterback Tom Brady play for the final time in a Patriots’ uniform.
Brady will be a free agent for the first time in his 20-year NFL career. And with his time in New England possibly being over, the Patriots may have to turn to another quarterback in 2020. That decision is completely up to Brady, however, and one that likely will not be made until the spring.
But for Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft, all he can do is hope his quarterback comes back for at least one more season. Kraft spoke with Peter King of NBC Sports before New England’s 20-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans, speaking candidly about Brady’s future.
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Hopes and Prayers
The tone of Kraft’s conversation with King didn’t sound incredibly encouraging. The Patriots’ owner undoubtedly wants Brady to come back to New England and finish out his career with the Patriots, but whether or not the quarterback shares that sentiment is another thing.
Here’s what Kraft had to say:
“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. 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 plays 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.”
“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.”
Brady and Kraft Maintain a Close Relationship
Midway through the 2019 season, ESPN cited an anonymous source stating that “Never underestimate Robert Kraft. The working relationship with Tom and Bill (Belichick) right now is terrific.”
Though there were reports the relationship was deteriorating in 2017, that hasn’t seemed to be the case at all. Brady and Belichick helped guide the Patriots to a Super Bowl LIII victory in spite of criticism and doubters saying it wasn’t possible.
Brady and Belichick share a similar motivation and Robert Kraft has allowed them the proper freedom to do what is necessary in order to be successful.