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Tom Brady’s next stop: Tampa Bay.
The NFL’s most successful quarterback is taking his talents to Florida’s west coast. Brady made the official announcement on his Instagram account Friday morning. Pictured sitting at a kitchen counter with a pen and new contract in hand, Brady said he was "excited, humble and hungry" to join the Buccaneers.
Brady signed a two-year deal with the Buccaneers, Sports Illustrated reports. On Tuesday morning, Brady took to social media and announced his intention to leave the Patriots and continue his career elsewhere.
Tampa Bay offered a good fit for the 42-year-old quarterback who plans to play until he’s 45. The Buccaneers wanted to move on from their interception-prone quarterback Jameis Winston, and they had the money to do that. Even better, the Buccaneers boast two 1,000-yard receivers on their roster — precisely the kind of offensive weapons Brady likes to see downfield.
"Tom is a proven champion who has achieved greatness on the field because he demands the best out of himself and his teammates," Bucs GM Jason Licht said in a statement. Licht was a member of the Patriots' scouting staff when Brady was drafted in 2000.
Licht added: "I've known Tom since we drafted him in New England 20 years ago and through this process it became very clear that his desire to be a champion burns as strong today as it ever has. He possesses the type of rare natural leadership qualities that will immediately impact our entire organization."
For the first time his career, Brady will work with another head coach. Gone is Patriots head coach Bill Bill Belichick and his tight control. Next season, Brady will play for Bruce Arians, the self-proclaimed “quarterback whisperer.” Arians actually wrote a book with that title about developing elite NFL quarterbacks. One of the storylines that will dominate Brady’s time with the Buccaneers, at least the early days, is his relationship with his new coach.
"Tom is the most successful quarterback in the history of our league, but what makes him so special is his ability to make those around him better," Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said in a statement. "I have had the privilege to work with some of the best passers in our game, and the characteristics they all possessed were the ability to lead and get the best out of their teammates. Tom is no different. He is a proven winner who will provide the leadership, accountability and work ethic necessary to lead us to our goal of winning another championship."
Of course, there will be comparisons with the relationship between Brady and Belichick. That relationship reportedly soured in recent years, though Belichick said they “will always have a great relationship built on love, admiration, respect and appreciation.” Those words were part of a Belichick statement released by the Patriots on Wednesday. Belichick also praised Brady and his legacy.
“Sometimes in life, it takes some time to pass before truly appreciating something or someone but that has not been the case with Tom,” said Belichick. “He is a special person and the greatest quarterback of all-time."
The one positive for Patriots fans: Tampa Bay plays in the NFC South. That means New England won’t face Tampa Bay in the playoffs, though the two teams are scheduled to meet in 2021 at Gillette Stadium. Outside of New England, Brady leaving the Patriots and the AFC East provided a reason for fans of division rivals to celebrate.
On Wednesday in a COVID-19-related press conference, Buffalo mayor Byron Brown told fans of the Buffalo Bills, “For those of you who want to celebrate Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots, and hopefully leaving the AFC East, there are no mass gatherings. Celebrate responsibly, celebrate at home, and with less than 10 people present.”
Several months from now, Buccaneers fans may be celebrating their first playoff berth since 2007 thanks to the new quarterback in town.
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