Contract numbers, underlying tensions contributed to the split between Patriots and Tom Brady


Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady returns to New England tonight to face Bill Belichick and his former team, a story you may have heard of. And Foxborough will be ready.

Sources say the Patriots will do what is right and noble by paying tribute to Brady upon his return and briefly pausing the game to commemorate him for surpassing Drew Brees’ all-time passing yard mark of 80,358 . He only needs 68 meters for this.

Over 500 media members have been accredited, with NBC accounting for about 300 of them – playoff level. The Today Show was broadcast live from Gillette Stadium this week, as well as Nightly news with Lester Holt. In short, Tampa Bay-New England is the most anticipated regular season game in years.

Before the Patriots host Brady’s Bucs Football on Sunday evening, let’s take a look back at how we got here. Based on interviews with sources over the past two years, here’s a look at how and why the greatest QB of all time broke up with the best coach of all time.

Why was Brady a free agent?

Before the 2019 season, Brady and the team mutually agreed on a contract extension that wasn’t an extension at all. Instead, it was a one-year raise that included a provision preventing the Pats from tagging Brady while the past two years were being voided. He should be a free agent. The idea was simple: after years of tension – and many, many Super Bowl titles with unprecedented victories – owner Robert Kraft believed that you couldn’t force a marriage.

At some point the two parties have to be together and want to stay together. Getting Brady free agent ensured he was back in New England in 2020 because he wanted to be there and Belichick wanted him back. It also allowed him to test the market and really be free, which he had always wondered about.

Why didn’t Brady and Belichick split up earlier?

Brady and Belichick quite clearly had the most successful coach-player relationships in the sport. But it wasn’t perfect. The respect was endless, but they weren’t best friends. And there was tension, especially after the 2017 season when Brady started to express himself a little by doing previously unthinkable acts, such as not participating in voluntary OTAs. Here strength proved to be indispensable and served as an intermediary when necessary. He listened to Brady, worked with Belichick in negotiating Brady’s contracts, and delivering what both sides lacked in the relationship. So it made sense when Kraft decided to give Brady the freedom to set his own destination and become a free agent.

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