Coach Bill Belichick doesn’t normally comment on players’ departures, which, by putting out a statement on Gostkowski, shows how much he thinks of Gostkowski.
“I have had the privilege of coaching some of the best specialists in the NFL and Stephen Gostkowski is one of them,” Belichick said in a statement. “Stephen had many highlights over his 14 years as a Patriot and one of the most impressive was the way it began when he succeeded the most accomplished kicker in NFL history. For some, this may have been too difficult a challenge. But from his rookie year, Stephen exuded a maturity and confidence that demonstrated he was up to the task. He made several crucial kicks his rookie year and established a top level of performance and consistency for years and years to come. Stephen is a great teammate who made outstanding contributions over a decade of championship football.”
Gostkowski replaced Adam Vinatieri in 2006 and won three Super Bowl rings. He made 87.4 percent of his field goals, fifth-best all time.
Gostkowski, 36, ended last season on injured reserve with a hip injury that needed surgery.