The free-agent quarterback announced on social media that he is not returning to the New England Patriots, the team with which he won six Super Bowls in 20 seasons.
In a post thanking Patriots fans, Brady wrote, “I don’t know what my football future holds but it is time for me to open a new stage for my life and career.”
The Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers remained the most likely landing spots for Brady as the second day of the free-agent negotiating window began.
In a statement released by New England, coach Bill Belichick said: “Sometimes in life, it takes some time to pass before truly appreciating something or someone but that has not been the case with Tom. He is a special person and the greatest quarterback of all-time.”
One factor that could be in the Chargers’ favor is the relationship between owner Dean Spanos and Robert Kraft, New England’s owner. The two are close friends.
Kraft and Brady also are close, with Kraft on Tuesday likening Brady to a son.
“How do I possibly sum up the depth of my gratitude to Tom Brady for what he’s given us these past 20 years, or the sadness I feel knowing it’s ending?” Kraft said in a statement released by the Patriots. “I love Tom like a son and I always will.”
Another potential sign favoring the Chargers is that Brady recently announced the development of a Hollywood production company, 199 Productions.
The “199” refers to the overall spot where Brady was drafted by New England in 2000.
The six-time Super Bowl champion would be the most historic, accomplished roster addition ever for the Chargers.
Brady, who turns 43 in August, would join the team as it moves into SoFi Stadium in Inglewood for the start of the 2020 season.
His presence would boost the profile of the Chargers both nationally and, perhaps of more importance, locally. The team has struggled to establish itself in L.A. since relocating from San Diego three years ago.
The Chargers are looking to replace Philip Rivers, who has started all 235 games the franchise has played since 2006. Like Brady, Rivers is a free agent, a decision he and the Chargers reached mutually last month.
If Brady does join the Chargers, Tyrod Taylor would continue to serve as the backup, with Easton Stick, a fifth-round draft pick a year ago, also on the roster.
Brady spent 20 years with the Patriots, reaching nine Super Bowls. He has been selected to 14 Pro Bowls and three times has been first-team All-Pro.
A certain Hall of Famer, Brady ranks second all-time in the NFL in completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns. Drew Brees leads all three categories. Brady’s 283 career starts are the most among all active players.
He is coming off a year in which his statistics dipped compared to his career standards. Brady completed 60.8% of his attempts for 4,057 yards, with 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Patriots finished 12-4 and lost their playoff opener at home, 20-13, to the Tennessee Titans.
That performance came with a roster widely considered to be inferior to what New England typically had during Brady’s tenure.
With the Chargers, he’d be armed with receivers Keenan Allen (a Pro Bowler each of the last three seasons) and Mike Williams (coming off his first 1,000-yard season).
The Chargers also recently re-signed Austin Ekeler, who in 2019 emerged as one of the NFL’s top receiving threats out of the backfield, and franchise-tagged Hunter Henry, a respected pass-catcher and blocker at tight end.
The team also is in the process of rebuilding an inconsistent offensive line, a project that would be of great importance in an attempt to protect Brady, who can move around in the pocket but is hardly known as elusive.
General manager Tom Telesco already traded for five-time Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner, giving up starting left tackle Russell Okung. Telesco is expected to be busy shopping for more offensive line help in free agency and the upcoming draft.
Similar to Rivers, Brady is dependable, starting every game in which he has been eligible since the 2009 opener. He missed the start of the 2016 season because of the four-game “Deflategate” suspension.
The scandal involved the allegation that Brady ordered the deliberate deflation of footballs used in New England’s victory over Indianapolis in the 2014 AFC title game.