Tom Brady is about to suit up for Super Bowl LV, which is free to watch online this year, causing mixed emotions among football fans. Specifically, those that watched Brady shine for the New England Patriots for two decades still wish he was in Foxborough instead of leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So why did the veteran quarterback leave the team that drafted him?
There are multiple reasons why the six-time Super Bowl champion left the Patriots following the 2020 season. One example is the salary cap. The team had tried to acquire talent for Brady during his final years. They signed Antonio Brown for one game and traded for Mohamed Sanu to boost the offense. These deals left the organization with little wiggle room to negotiate an extension with Brady.
"That's what we did the last five years," head coach Bill Belichick told WEEI in November. "We sold out and won three Super Bowls, played in a fourth, and played in an AFC Championship game. This year we had less to work with. It's not an excuse, it's just a fact."
The attempts to acquire talent also played a role in the lack of depth on the roster. Outside of veteran Julian Edelman, who dealt with injuries, the Patriots did not have many options among pass catchers. First-round pick N'Keal Harry only appeared in seven games as a rookie, registering 105 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Brown only spent one game with the Patriots before losing his job amid off-the-field issues. Standout tight end Rob Gronkowski retired and spent one season on the WWE roster.
"I don't think [Brady] was happy with the way things were progressing there, and his ability to have input and I think that was a big decision for him to make, to leave there," Hall of Famer Joe Montana said during an August appearance on The Jake Asman Show. Brady didn't confirm this opinion after he left New England, but he did highlight several aspects of Tampa Bay.
After signing his deal, Brady met with reporters and explained that he liked the "willingness" of everyone in the building to win. He called the players and coaches intriguing. Since that press conference, Brady has created a good working relationship with head coach Bruce Arians and the entire offensive staff. He has also partnered with a stacked group of surrounding talent, including Gronkowski, Brown, Mike Evans, Scotty Miller, and Chris Godwin.
Brady will now have the opportunity to win a seventh Super Bowl title. He and the Buccaneers will face off with the Chiefs during Super Bowl LV. CBS will broadcast the game at 6:30 p.m. ET with Tony Romo and Jim Nantz calling the action from the booth. Tracy Wolfson, Evan Washburn, and Jay Feely will work as sideline reporters.