Tom Brady makes it official: He's leaving the Patriots

Tom Brady will be moving on from the New England Patriots, the team with which he won six Super Bowls.

Everyone knew that was a possibility as Brady hit free agency for the first time at age 42, but it was still a shock to see him announce it on Tuesday morning with a statement titled “Forever a Patriot” on his social media channels.

In it, Brady announced that his “football journey will take place elsewhere.”

Brady had a second part to his announcement in which he thanked Patriots fans.

The Patriots retweeted both messages from their official account on Tuesday morning.

Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson said the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Chargers emerged as the two most interested suitors for Brady on Monday, the start of the so-called legal tampering period. The Patriots were not ruled out, though Brady did so with his announcement on Tuesday.

An era ends

While there will forever be debates about the greatest quarterback in NFL history, nobody can match Brady’s résumé.

Brady, who took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001 and rose from obscure sixth-round pick from Michigan to Super Bowl MVP by the end of that season, set a record with six Super Bowl rings.

Brady is a three-time MVP, a four-time Super Bowl MVP, a 14-time Pro Bowler, and he ranks second to Drew Brees in all-time passing yards and passing touchdowns. Brady and coach Bill Belichick are synonymous with the Patriots. New England must move on at quarterback, perhaps with free agent Philip Rivers or a trade acquisition like Andy Dalton or Nick Foles.

For the first time in almost 20 years, Brady is no longer the Patriots’ quarterback. That will take some time to get used to.

What’s next for Brady, Patriots?

Now that Brady has decided to move on, there are two major questions to answer. Who does Brady play for, in his age-43 season, and who do the Patriots get to replace him?

The Patriots are coming off a 12-4 season that ultimately ended in disappointment with a wild-card weekend loss to the Tennessee Titans. The final pass of Brady’s Patriots career was a pick-six to Titans cornerback Logan Ryan, a former New England teammate. The Patriots should feel like they can still win another AFC East title behind a strong defense, if they get the right quarterback to fill Brady’s enormous shoes.

Although Brady said he’ll play elsewhere in 2020, the list of teams that could be interested seems fairly short. The Raiders and Titans made moves in the past few days that likely remove them from consideration. The Chargers and Buccaneers make the most sense. Tampa Bay has been stating its desire to land Brady since the NFL scouting combine. Perhaps there’s another team in the market for a quarterback, like the Bears or Colts, who give Brady a call now that they know he’s truly a free agent.

No matter what happens next, Tuesday will be remembered as a historic day in the NFL. Brady is no longer the Patriots’ quarterback.

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