The 43-year-old quarterback and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dismantled an off-the-boil Kansas City Chiefs at Super Bowl LV, running out 31-9 winners.
It was Brady and two former New England Patriot teammates who steered the side to victory with tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Antonio Brown combining for three of the Florida franchise’s four touchdowns.
The trio’s former team were nowhere to be seen at this season’s playoffs, slouching to their worst regular season record since 2000, the year Tom Brady was drafted.
Brady’s continued success and the decline of coach Bill Belichick’s Patriots has many asking: why did Tom Brady leave the New England Patriots?
Why did Tom Brady leave the New England Patriots?
On March 2020, Tom Brady departed his home of 20 years, bringing an end to the most successful dynasty in American football history.
To the casual viewer the move was shocking, but the move was unsurprising to many.
In 2019 Tom Brady restructured his contract to allow him the option to enter the free agency the following year. This wasn’t necessarily because he wanted to leave, but the California-born QB wanted to keep his options open. The contract stipulated that the Patriots could not franchise or transition tag the veteran player, allowing him the freedom to move.
When the 2019 season reached its end Brady wanted to negotiate a longer term contract with the Patriots allowing him to retire with the New England team. Owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichik were reluctant, however, both preferring to offer the ageing player a short term deal.
NBC Sports Boston explained: "a tangible effort by the Patriots to keep Tom Brady in New England never happened. No negotiation. Just the intimation that it was on Brady to say what he wanted. For Brady, that stance spoke volumes.”
Brady is said to have felt unwanted by the side which solidified his decision to leave the team. This feeling had been brewing for years with Belichik not making a secret of his desire to recruit a successor for Brady – he had actively pursued Jimmy Garropolo in 2017.
Belichik’s man-management style also likely pushed Brady closer to the exit door. A call between the two during Brady’s free agency was said to have been problematic, with former Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib explaining to NFL Network: "if (Belichick is) treating everybody the same in the meeting room, he's probably treating everybody the same around free agency time, as well
"I think Tom is gone. I think it’s a done deal, and Bill is going to be Bill. Them calls are going to be short and to the point.
"We got a report that said (their call) didn’t go well. I had a call that didn’t go well with Bill before, so I can imagine what happened on that call.
Talib also noted that Brady and Belichick may have been wanting to find out if they were capable of winning the Super Bowl without the other. Talib said: “It’s kind of a chip on both of their shoulders that’s like, ‘I want to do this thing and see if I could do it without him.”
Why did he choose the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
February 7’s victory show that Tom Brady chose well during free agency.
A year ago Brady clearly saw a team that he felt capable of winning a Super Bowl before his career reached its twilight and that was partly due to the offensive weapons which the team already boasted in the form of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Brady explained why he opted for the Buccaneers in 2020 in his welcome press conference, describing the franchise as an “intriguing” prospect.
He said: "There were a lot of things that really were intriguing to me about the organisation – the players, and the coaches, and the willingness of everyone to try to accomplish the goal of what playing football is, which is to win.”
Los Angeles was another option for Brady but according to NFL Media the father of three opted for Tampa Bay due to "family considerations."