It’s not known exactly when Brady made his decision, but he decided that Monday night was the time to tell Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, that he was leaving.
Robert Kraft to ESPN: "Tommy initiated contact last night & came over. We had a positive, respectful discussion. It's not the way I want it to end, but I want him to do what is in his best personal interest. After 20 years with us, he has earned that right. I love him like a son"
Kraft is disappointed, but he respects Brady’s decision. And it’s certainly been a long, twisty journey between the end of the Patriots’ season and Brady’s big announcement. Let’s take a look back at how we got to this point.
Aug. 4: Brady, Patriots restructure contract
Brady’s restructured contract got him a raise for 2019, but included a clause that would allow him to void the agreement at the end of the season and forbid the Patriots from using the franchise or transition tag on him. Even back in August, Brady was interested in experiencing free agency.
Two days later, it was reported that Brady and his wife had put their only Massachusetts residence up for sale.
Dec. 29: Patriots lose to Dolphins in Week 17
This was supposed to be an easy win for the Patriots, but instead it was the start of Brady’s ugly on-field end in New England. Before the game started, was barely any question that the Pats would clock the comical Miami Dolphins and cruise to a first-round bye in the playoffs.
And then the game actually started. Brady gave a dismal performance and the team seemed to unravel around him. The Patriots lost their regular season finale 27-24, and they lost their first-round bye, too.
Robert Kraft through his career
Robert Kraft through his career
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft answers a reporters question as coach Bill Parcells (L) laughs during a morning press conferenece January 22. The Patriots will meet the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI January 26.
SPORT SUPER BOWL
U.S. President George W. Bush poses with the New England Patriots and
their owner, Robert Kraft (L), and Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick
(R), during a Rose Garden ceremony honoring the 2001 NFL Champions at
the White House, April 2, 2002. The Patriots defeated the St. Louis
Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI 20-17. REUTERS/Win McNamee
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (R) and head coach Bill Belichick hold the Lamar Hunt Trophy after the Patriots' 24-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship in Foxboro, Massachusetts, January 18, 2004. REUTERS/Mike Segar JS
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (R) greets fans prior to Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston, February 1, 2004. The Patriots are playing the Carolina Panthers. REUTERS/Mike Segar PJ
Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie (L) and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft embrace prior to Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida, February 6, 2005. Kraft outbid Lurie in 1994 for the ownership of the Patriots, and Lurie bought the Eagles one year later. Lurie is from the Boston area and roots for the Patriots, except when they are playing the Eagles. REUTERS/Mike Blake GAC/SV
New England Patriot owner Robert Kraft holds the Vince Lombardi trophy after Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Florida, February 6, 2005. REUTERS/Mike Blake CBSV
U.S. President George W. Bush poses with members of the New England Patriots football team at the White House. U.S. President George W. Bush poses for a group picture with players and officials from the New England Patriots football team including team owner Robert Kraft (L) and head coach Bill Belichick (R) during a welcoming ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, April 13, 2005. The Patriots won the 2005 Super Bowl earlier this year. REUTERS/Jason Reed
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) and New England Patriots Chariman and chief executive officer Robert Kraft laugh before the start of a game in Foxboro, Massachusetts, September 24, 2006, while announcing that the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks will play in the first NFL game in China. The game will be played August 8, 2007. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES)
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft smiles on the sidelines before his team's NFL football game against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, New Jersey December 29, 2007. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES)
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (R) chats with referee Mike Carey prior to the NFL's Super Bowl XLII football game between the Patriots and the New York Giants in Glendale, Arizona, February 3, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES)
Chairman and CEO of the New England Patriots Robert Kraft (R) poses with Andre Tippett after Tippett was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, August 2, 2008. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (R) poses with New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch (L) and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft before a Super Bowl XLVI news conference in Indianapolis, Indiana February 3, 2012. Super Bowl XLVI between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants is set for play on February 5. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (R) kisses former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe (L) as he holds the Larmar Hunt Trophy after the Patriots defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL's AFC Championship football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts, January 22, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft arrives at the 20th annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party in West Hollywood, California February 26, 2012. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT HEADSHOT)(OSCARS-PARTIES)
Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft claps on the field prior to the Patriots' 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft laughs during activities held before the start of the NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Glendale, Arizona, February 1, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (left) walks the field with girlfriend Ricki Noel Lander before Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
U.S. President Barack Obama (C) holds a replica jersey he was given as he plays host to the reigning NFL Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, including head coach Bill Belichick (L) and team owner Robert Kraft (R), on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington April 23, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Aug 7, 2015; Canton, OH, USA; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft poses with enshrinees Jim Kelly, Marv Levy, Bill Polian, Thurman Thomas, Will Shields and James Lofton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 22, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft celebrates after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2017 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-38 in Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots NFL team owner Robert Kraft poses at Elton John's 70th Birthday and 50-Year Songwriting Partnership with Bernie Taupin benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the UCLA Hammer Museum at RED Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles, March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
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Jan. 4: Patriots lose wild-card game to Titans
If the Patriots had managed to beat the Dolphins, they could have avoided this game. Instead, Brady looked off and so did his receivers. The Pats were eliminated after the Titans beat them 20-13, and Brady’s final play in a New England uniform was an interception with just 15 seconds left.
Jan 8: Brady announces that he won’t retire
Several days after the wild-card loss, Brady posted a thank you to his fans and teammates on Instagram. He ended it with “I know I still have more to prove,” announcing his intention to continue playing in the NFL at age 42.
Neither Brady or Kraft said anything publicly in February, so rumors started piling up. The Patriots were reportedly willing to extend themselves and sign Brady to a $30 million contract, but that didn’t stop rumors that teams like the Titans, Raiders, Chargers, and Buccaneers were all interested in Brady’s services. It seemed like everyone wanted Brady, but he stayed mum on where he wanted to go.
March 4: Brady-Belichick phone call does not go well
Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reportedly had their very first conversation about Brady’s contract in early March, and it didn’t go well. While there were conflicting reports that the call was just “business as usual” between the famously gruff coach and his franchise quarterback, Patriots fans began to worry.
March 17: Brady says goodbye to New England
The decision to retain Brady was reportedly up to Belichick, but it doesn’t seem like he got the chance to even come to one. Brady went to Kraft and revealed that he’d decided not to return to the Patriots, ending his 20-year run with the franchise.