Bill Belichick Gives Direct Answer About Tom Brady’s Patriots Departure

Tom Brady

Bill Belichick stands by his decision to let Tom Brady leave in free agency in 2020.

New England Patriots head coach and general manager Bill Belichick showed no signs of regret at his decision to let former quarterback Tom Brady walk in free agency three years ago.

“Well, I mean, no, it’s a business,” Belichick said on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” on Monday, September 11. “And I understand that part of it.”

Belichick coached Brady for 20 seasons in New England, and they won six Super Bowls together, but Belichick didn’t re-sign Brady, 42 at the time, to a new deal in 2020. Brady threw for 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns versus eight interceptions in 2019, so he hadn’t hit a significant decline in performance at that point.

It showed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where Brady signed and went on to win another Super Bowl and two NFC South division titles. Belichick hasn’t won a playoff game since amid losing seasons in two of the past three years.

New England honored Brady, now retired, at the Patriots’ season opener on Sunday, September 10. The Patriots couldn’t deliver a win on the field despite a late comeback in a 25-20 defeat against the Philadelphia Eagles — a franchise Brady and Belichick split two Super Bowls against in their time together.

“I certainly appreciated the opportunity to coach Tom,” Belichick told WEEI. “I had a great conversation with him yesterday. It’s great to catch up. He just sets the standard for what a great player is. There’s nobody better than him.”

“I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunity to draft him, coach him and learn from him. So, I look back at those 20 years with a great deal of fondness and affection for Tom and what he did for me and for our football team,” Belichick continued.

Tom Brady Makes Promise During Epic Speech

Brady and Belichick will meet again when Brady appears at Gillette Stadium on June 12, 2024, as a new member of the Patriots Hall of Fame. The 45-year-old former quarterback promised Patriots fans that he will be back for that celebration next year when he concluded his speech on Sunday.

“Thank you guys for an incredible day. Thank you to my teammates, some of whom I see right here, my family, my friends, my second family, and all of you guys for making it another day in this stadium that I’ll never forget. I love you guys so much. I’ll see you next summer. Thank you,” Brady told those gathered at halftime.

A packed stadium of fans and former teammates of Brady’s watched and listened to his halftime speech where he touched on the many people who influenced him and helped him lead the Patriots to six championships. Brady also highlighted the Patriots’ winning culture during his time in addition to his many thanks to the fans and current and former members of the Patriots organization.

“All our lives take us on different journeys. They take us to different places. They bring different people into our lives. But one thing I’m sure of and that will never change, is that I am a Patriot for life,” Brady said.

Tom Brady Jokes He’s ‘Not Quite in Game Shape’

Brady, who took the field before the game with his old routine, joked that he’s “not quite in game” shape when he began his speech.

“Thank you. Thank you guys. What a day. You know, that run out was a little longer today than it used to be. I’m not quite in game shape. But it’s impossible for me to be in this stadium full of you amazing fans, with some of the best teammates, with my family, with all my friends and not run out like I did for 20 years,” Brady said.

Brady also rang the lighthouse tower bell at the stadium as part of the pregame celebration. He retired from the NFL after 23 seasons in February and has moved on with various business ventures — including part ownership in the Las Vegas Raiders.