They won six Lombardi trophies together before Tom Brady split for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and claimed a seventh Super Bowl ring last season.
But Bill Belichick is not planning to dive into nostalgia as New England prepares for Brady to visit the Patriots for the first time on Sunday night.
Brady demanded and received a contract stipulation in his contract for the 2019 season that would prohibit the Patriots from using the franchise tag to retain their longtime quarterback. In his first full foray into free agency, Brady signed a two-year deal with the Buccaneers in March 2020 and called Tampa Bay a “better option” than others on the table. That included New England.
“I think we’ve been through all the dynamics of that. He looked at his options and made his decision. We weren’t as good an option as Tampa. … It wasn’t a question of not wanting him, that’s for sure.”Bill Belichick on Tom Brady’s decision to leave
Belichick and the Patriots released statements at the time of Brady’s departure, and New England eventually signed Cam Newton to be the starting quarterback last season.
But the Patriots, and specifically Belichick, did not publicly discuss losing Brady or the dynamics behind his departure.
Bill Belichick addresses Week 4 game against Tom Brady
He stood that ground again Monday but will surely face similar questions in media sessions ahead of the Sunday night primetime affair with the 2-1 Buccaneers.
“I’m not gonna go back and rehash all that,” Belichick said. “We’ve talked about that.
“Our focus is on the game here. Look, I have so much respect and appreciation for Tom and everything he did here and for me and for our team,” Belichick continued. “We’re just getting ready to compete against Tampa this week, and we’re gonna keep our focus on that.
“We made a statement when Tom left, and that covered it,” Belichick said.
Tampa Bay’s roster also includes former Patriots Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown.
Gronkowski briefly left Sunday’s game with a rib injury but Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said the tight end, who returned following X-rays, is “fine.”
Brown did not play last week because he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Arians said Brown should be back this week.
–Field Level Media