It was brief – less than three and a half minutes – but Tom Brady’s first comments to the local media since 2018 were still worthy of note.
The quarterback stepped to the makeshift podium on the side of the practice fields at Gillette Stadium and told reporters that his relationship with Bill Belichick is “great” and that his absence from the first seven weeks of the offseason was “personal.”
“We’ve always had a great relationship,” Brady said when asked about his coach. “I’ve been here for a long time and I love this team, I love this organization and I love playing quarterback for him. I loved it last year. I’m having a lot of fun now, so that’s obviously what’s most important to me.”
Still, Brady decided to skip the voluntary portions of the offseason program, including the pass-heavy OTAs that he’s often stressed the importance of in the past. So what has changed in Brady’s 19th season?
“It’s obviously important for everybody. Our coaches do a great job getting us ready. Just some personal reasons for me,” Brady said. “But I’m here now and focused on what I need to do, as I always say I am. I’m looking forward to this year.”
Some have speculated that Brady’s decision was related to his contract. He has two years remaining on his deal and has watched quarterbacks such as Kirk Cousins and Matt Ryan signed lucrative deals that are well beyond the average annual value of the $20.5 million he earned with his last extension, which he signed in 2016.
Brady wouldn’t get into any specifics when asked about his contract and the possible role it may have played in his decision to skip OTAs.
“I’ve never talked about my contract. I’ve never brought up money for a lot of reasons that I’ve said over the years,” he said. “Those things are very personal.”
Even though the Patriots just finished their mandatory mini-camp, the team still has a round of OTAs scheduled for next week. At this point it is unclear whether or not Brady will remain in town to participate, although when asked it didn’t seem as if that would be the case.
“We’re not even through today yet,” he said.
Brady indicated that he never considered retirement at any time despite some words in his documentary, “Tom vs. Time,” that seemed to indicate it was a possibility.
As for the present, Brady was asked if he felt his absence would have a negative impact on the team.
“Every year has different challenges, you know? There’s some years where, I mean, obviously this team has very high expectations. We’re trying to win every game. That’s what our goals are,” Brady said.
“I think those things we have a lot of time to work on literally. Figuratively there’s a long way to go. We’ve got a lot of work to do and it’s going to be up to us individually to prepare as best we can and then collectively when we come together we do the same.”