The Patriots continue their search to “solidify” the quarterback position a year after Tom Brady walked out the door. New England went 7-9 last season, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008, while Brady won his seventh Super Bowl ring, this one with the Buccaneers.
Brady, whom the Patriots drafted in the sixth round in 2000, continues to cast a large shadow on the franchise he spent two decades leading to six championships.
“Look, I love Tom Brady and he’s great, but he’s moved on,” Kraft said Wednesday. “What happened here last year was not something to our liking. We had to make the corrections.”
Kraft was asked if he had any feelings of regret that Brady and the Patriots didn’t stay together even longer.
“I would have loved for him to retire as a Patriot,” Kraft said. “Everybody knew that but in life things just happen in a way that you have to balance a lot of things. After 20 years, I thought he was entitled to make a decision that was what he thought was best for him and where he was at. We gave him the ability to do that.
“It’s like marriages sometimes. No one knows on the outside everything going on and you try to balance a lot, and it is what it is.”
The Patriots gave Brady the option to leave as a free agent. He did, and he won big. That surely hurt Kraft and the Patriots organization — as well as its fans — even more than seeing him in another uniform.
“Well, after 20 years with any player, I’ll make this commitment to any player in the future,” Kraft said. “Anyone who spends 20 years with us and helps us win six Super Bowls. . . . Look, we could have, contract-wise, kept him in our camp, but it’s just not the right thing. Naturally, we want to win, but who knows what would have happened if he stayed here. Look what happened at the end of his last season here.”
Brady returns to New England this season . . . when his Buccaneers play a road game against the Patriots. The Patriots will get a reminder both of what they had and what they might have had.