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Joe Montana believes the New England Patriots "made a mistake" after allowing legendary quarterback Tom Brady to leave for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brady swapped the Patriots for the Buccaneers on a two-year deal in free agency following six Super Bowl titles during an illustrious career in New England.

The 42-year-old was drafted by the Patriots in 2000 and four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Montana does not understand why New England granted Brady's exit.

"I don't know what's going on inside there, but somebody made a mistake," the 63-year-old Montana, who spent 14 seasons playing for the San Francisco 49ers before being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, told USA Today Sports.

"I think when you look at the whole situation, you try to figure out how you want to get away from things that are there.

"I had a different story, where they had made a decision. He, obviously, they never would have gotten rid of. I still don't understand how New England let him get away. I don't understand that."

Addressing why Brady sought a new challenge, Hall of Famer Montana added: "It's not about appreciation. He wants control. I mean, he wants a lot of control. I don't know what Tampa Bay gave him, but at some point in time, you're just a player.

"You can try to get what you can and do what you want, but in the end, you're still not in the hierarchy when it comes to hiring people, firing people and all that.

"I don't know exactly what he's looking for, but my understanding was that he's just looking for more control of the offense. But I don't know. I haven't had a long conversation with him; I talked to him a little bit at the Super Bowl, but not enough time to really get in-depth."

Drew Brees and his wife Brittany have announced they will be donating $5million to help the state of Louisiana.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback will work in conjunction with a number of local organisations to provide aid during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Brees has been in New Orleans since 2006 and recently signed a new two-year contract to extend his stay with the Saints, whose head coach Sean Payton tested positive for COVID-19 before being cleared on Wednesday.

There have been over 75,000 confirmed cases in the United States so far, with the virus claiming more than 22,000 lives around the world.

"After considerable research and conversations with local organisations, we will be mobilising our partnerships with Second Harvest Food Bank, Ochsner Health Systems, Walk-Ons, Jimmy Johns, Smalls Sliders and Waitr to prepare and deliver over 10,000 meals per day throughout Louisiana for as long as it takes to children on meal programs, seniors, and families in need," Brees wrote in a post on Instagram.

 "Let's all do our part, maintain hope, and get through this together."

Brees, 41, has thrown for 77,416 yards and 547 touchdowns in an NFL career that started with the San Diego Chargers.

Athletes are at risk of having their careers cut short if soon-to-be free agents face a prolonged period of unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic, warned World Players Association executive director Brendan Schwab.

COVID-19 has brought sport to a standstill across the globe, with the 2020 Olympic Games, major European football leagues, the NBA, MLB and NHL postponed.

Euro 2020 and Copa America 2020 have been pushed back to next year amid the fight to combat the spread of the virus, which has claimed more than 21,290 lives.

It remains to be seen when and if the 2019-20 Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 seasons will resume, raising doubts over the futures of football players – whose contracts are due to expire in June.

The likes of Edinson Cavani and Thiago Silva (both Paris Saint-Germain), Willian (Chelsea) and Dries Mertens (Napoli) are all set to become free agents.

As clubs and organisations try to reduce costs amid the economic crisis, Schwab – who works for World Players, which brings together 85,000 players across professional sports through more than 100 player associations in over 60 countries – told Stats Perform: "The challenge is to ensure enough liquidity during the shutdown so that the same content can be delivered to fans, broadcasters and brands but over a longer period.

"Existing contracts and regulations such as contract expiry dates and transfer windows will all need to be reformulated which can only be done though collective decision-making involving governments, sports bodies, broadcasters, stadia operators, player unions and civil society. The impact on the sporting schedule will be long-lasting and may take several years to return to normal.

"Seasons just starting – such as MLB, AFL and NRL – have a longer struggle in many ways. Shortened seasons are likely, but it all depends on the length of the shutdown, liquidity and the window available to complete seasons. Sports which own their own infrastructure will have greater flexibility and will be in a stronger position to design solutions.

"The key is collective decision-making, goodwill and long-term thinking, all of which can be difficult during such uncertainty. Many key sports governing, commercial and player contracts have 'force majeure' clauses which may apply in these circumstances. Certain parties may be able to 'cut and run', but that will only worsen the bleeding and make recovery more difficult. We need to bunker down, show we care about our people, fight the pandemic, exercise restraint, save as many jobs and legitimate commercial interests as we can, and re-emerge with a renewed, sustainable and collectively developed economic model.

"Tuesday was the anniversary of the death of arguably football’s most influential figure, Johan Cruyff. He famously said that there is advantage in every disadvantage. That thinking is needed right now."

Schwab added: "Individual players will be impacted differently. The destiny of free agents will depend much on the state of the leagues once the shutdown has been lifted. There is a risk that players coming off contract will face a prolonged period of unemployment if the shutdown continues, which can be career ending.

"The top players should be OK during this period, but remember they are a fraction of players and athletes who work professionally. It is likely that the economic impact of the shutdown will result in a deflated labour market for some time, which will suppress wages even among the viable leagues. For leagues outside the very top echelon, it may be a battle for survival.

"However, sport's essential role in society will be unchanged and may even be renewed and elevated. It will have a critical role to play as the community reunites after the pandemic and we expect a major resurgence in demand. Sport is therefore an important part of government planning, and it is pleasing to see that progressive governments in Switzerland, Sweden and some other countries have included sport in the stimulus packages they are announcing. They will reap a community dividend for doing so even as they balance the essential interests of the broader society and economy."

"[Next year] an intense year for sport as current seasons will now run well into the northern summer and that will require a readjusted schedule in 2021," the Australian executive continued. "The postponement of the Olympics may allow for existing concerns to be addressed including the health and safety impacts of the extreme heat of July-August in Tokyo. These issues all need to be worked through. We shouldn't assume the Olympics are simply put back 12 months. We are consulting with our affiliates about how to approach the shaping of the 2021 sports calendar."

Coronavirus has largely affected the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions, but Schwab said: "We have been concerned with some of the heath information being conveyed, including that COVID-19 is a disease that mainly affects the elderly and the vulnerable. Athletes, too, are vulnerable, despite being young and fit. The disease attacks the lungs, and athletes themselves have suffered very severe symptoms which may be long-lasting. There have been fatalities among people between 20 and 44 and young people can transmit the virus even if they don't have symptoms.

"Players have also been forced into quarantine when living away from their families. It is necessary that effective support mechanisms are in place to ensure the mental health and social wellbeing of players as well as their physical health. Our player unions play an essential role here."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians dismissed the perception that legendary quarterback Tom Brady cannot throw the deep ball following his arrival from the New England Patriots.

Brady swapped the Patriots for the Buccaneers on a two-year deal in free agency following six Super Bowl titles in New England.

There is a perception that Brady – a three-time NFL MVP and 14-time Pro Bowler – is only capable of hurting opponents underneath but Arians defended the 42-year-old.

"I think the perception is just wrong," Arians said on Wednesday. "I thought his deep ball was outstanding last year. Through their play-action game, they hit a lot of deep balls.

"And our quarterback – I thought he put it as good as anybody – throw it to the guy who's open."

"He can make every throw," Arians added. "He can do everything we want to do in our offense."

Arians continued: "We do have reads that start deep and come in short, but I've had a couple quarterbacks that just keep looking deep – they won't throw the checkdown.

"[Offensive consultant] Tom Moore has the best saying in the world: 'You don't go broke putting money in the bank. Take the damn checkdown'.

"We don't have to teach Tom that. But I think the freedom of looking downfield on certain routes and in certain situations, when the matchup's perfect – take it, don't be afraid to take it – some quarterbacks are afraid to take it. I'm not looking for a 'checkdown Charlie' quarterback."

Devin McCourty understands why expectations are low for the New England Patriots following the departure of Tom Brady, but insists they remain focused on winning without their long-time quarterback.

Brady ended his long and successful association with the Patriots earlier this month, opting to leave as a free agent and continue his storied career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

His time in New England included six Super Bowl wins working under head coach Bill Belichick, who must now find a way to succeed with a new quarterback at the helm.

The experienced Brian Hoyer has returned to the Pats to join Jarrett Stidham, selected by the team in the fourth round of last year's draft, and Cody Kessler on the roster.

Having signed a new deal to remain in New England, McCourty is calm about the situation facing the franchise as they begin a new era, revealing how the goal to keep improving has not changed.

"I think my goal is always to win as many games as possible. I don't think you ever come into the season and talk, 'Super Bowl, Super Bowl, Super Bowl'," the defensive back said on a conference call.

"It's about improving and winning games along the way as you improve. I think that will stay the same.

"Especially now, you have a lot of time to be on Twitter and stuff, so a lot of what I've seen is just people tweeting me like, 'Enjoy what you guys had, it's over, you guys won't win a game'. 

"I think that's natural, though. I think if I was a fan and I watched the team and watched a guy for a long time and he left and he was so great, I would say that team is going to be terrible too.

"That's expected, but I think it's our job as players to go out there and compete when we get the opportunity.

"I think, for us as a team, in my 10 years here, that's always going to be the thinking."

Drew Brees and Nick Saban have each enjoyed careers that will ensure their place at the forefront of the rich history of American sports.

However, it is fascinating to ponder how the landscape of the NFL and college football might have been different had they worked together.

They came close to doing so in 2006, when Saban was head coach of the Miami Dolphins and Brees a free agent after contract negotiations with the then-San Diego Chargers broke down.

Brees had torn his labrum in the final game of the 2005 season and with Miami's doctors unsure whether his shoulder was fully healed from that injury, Saban and the Dolphins decided to trade for Daunte Culpepper instead.

It would prove to be one of the great missteps in Dolphins history, but what if Miami had instead decided to bet on the powers of recovery of a now 13-time Pro Bowler who has written his name all over the NFL record books?

The Saints go marching out

Brees instead signed a six-year deal with a Saints team coming off a 2005 season that saw them unable to play in the Superdome due to the damage it sustained during Hurricane Katrina.

It had been rumoured Saints owner Tom Benson was planning to void his lease agreement with the Superdome and declare it unusable, with San Antonio - where he had business interests - a potential destination.

The Superdome was repaired and renovated, however, and Brees led New Orleans to the playoffs in his first season with the team. The Saints uplifted the city as it recovered from Katrina and won their first Super Bowl title at the end of the 2009 season, with Brees named MVP of their win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Without Brees to turn them from perennial also-rans to Super Bowl contenders, Benson perhaps eventually decides to press ahead with plans for a move to Texas and New Orleans loses a team that became a beacon of hope for the city in the wake of its darkest hour.

Saban stays in the pros

At the time of the Dolphins' pursuit of Brees, they were coming off an encouraging 9-7 season in Saban's first year at the helm.

Miami won six successive games to end the campaign, finishing one game behind the New England Patriots in the AFC East.

They were unable to build on that promise, however, as the trade of a second-round pick for Culpepper proved an error. He played only four games and ended the season on injured reserve after knee surgery.

A 6-10 season was marked by continuous speculation connecting Saban to the vacant head coach position at the University of Alabama, before he accepted an offer from the Crimson Tide in January 2007.

Saban has since won five National Championships and six SEC titles at Alabama. Had he and Miami gone for Brees over Culpepper, the Dolphins may well have become consistent contenders in the AFC under Saban, with one of the most dominant dynasties in college football history never coming to pass.

Patriots lose superpower status

Saban's last win as an NFL head coach was in the Dolphins' 21-0 defeat of the New England Patriots in December 2006, handing former colleague Bill Belichick a shutout loss.

A defensive coordinator for Belichick's Cleveland Browns in the 1990s, Saban is one of few Belichick disciples to have excelled as a head coach, even if his glories have come away from the NFL.

With the team building and coaching acumen Saban has displayed since his departure, it is reasonable to believe the Dolphins would have been well-positioned to regularly challenge the Patriots' supremacy in the AFC East.

The New York Jets rose to prominence under Rex Ryan in 2009. Had Saban stuck around, the Patriots could have had two rivals capable of preventing their well-documented dominance of the division from stretching into a second decade.

Ndamukong Suh is reportedly expected to return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a one-year, $8million deal.

The defensive tackle, the second overall pick for the Detroit Lions in the 2010 NFL Draft, spent last year with the Bucs, where he had 41 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 14 quarterback hits and two fumbles returned for touchdowns.

Having played for three different teams in the past three seasons following stints with the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Rams, Suh is now expected to remain in Tampa Bay, according to ESPN.

Last week the Buccaneers acquired former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a six-time Super Bowl winner, in free agency.

Suh is a five-time Pro Bowler, though the most recent of those came in 2016.

Cam Newton is on the hunt for a new job in the NFL after being released by the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday.

His exit from the Panthers is a turn of events assumed unthinkable only a few years ago. Newton won the MVP award in the 2015 season for a scintillating campaign that ended with the Panthers losing Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos.

A series of injury issues have derailed the former first-round pick's career and, as he surveys his available options, Newton will find only one legitimate potential opportunity to start in 2020.

Newton taking snaps under center in Week 1 is dependent on interest from a team that also parted with their long-time starter this offseason.

Cam Newton – Los Angeles Charger?

The Los Angeles Chargers stand as the only team with a prospective opening for Newton to start.

Philip Rivers, with the Chargers since 2004, is now a member of the Indianapolis Colts. Los Angeles have not made a move to replace him, leaving Tyrod Taylor as the presumptive starting quarterback.

That is an unappetising scenario for Chargers fans considering buying the personal seat licenses at SoFi Stadium, which they will share with the Rams.

Aside from a few seasons of promise with the Buffalo Bills, Taylor has displayed little to suggest he is a starting quarterback capable of leading a playoff contender. He is, however, an ideal backup for Newton. 

Taylor and Newton possess a similar skill set with their ability to make things happen with their legs. Newton boasts significantly great upside as a passer and when at his best he has the arm to make any throw. 

Newton would also find an excellent set of weapons to get the ball to. Keenan Allen has at least 1,100 receiving yards in each of the last three seasons while Mike Williams provides a big-bodied target with the catch radius to negate the impact of inaccurate passes.

Hunter Henry is a prolific if oft-injured option at tight end and Austin Ekeler established himself as one of the better all-round running backs in the NFL last year.

The fit with the Chargers could hardly be better for Newton, who would instantly energise an uninspired fanbase. However, with the Chargers in a position to add one of the top quarterbacks in the draft with the sixth overall pick, they may not have interest. If they don't, then Newton will have to reconcile himself with being a backup.

Other potential destinations

Teams where Newton would appear to have a shot at replacing the current starter are thin on the ground. 

His best bets are with franchises that have 2019 draft picks who were not selected in the first round under center – the Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Second-rounder Drew Lock impressed down the stretch for the Broncos, but Denver will not have seen enough to be totally convinced by a gunslinger with a tendency for rash decisions.

Newton is an upgrade on Lock when healthy and the same is true with Jaguars starter Gardner Minshew. 

Minshew outplayed Nick Foles last year as a sixth-round rookie and his exciting style of play made him a cult hero in Jacksonville. Consistency will be key, however, if the Jaguars are to excel. Newton would be a tremendous replacement were Minshew to fail to regularly produce his best.

The Jags' AFC South rivals the Tennessee Titans are a possible outsider for Newton. They need a backup for Ryan Tannehill following Marcus Mariota's departure. Newton is an excellent insurance policy if Tannehill's 2019 resurgence proves a flash in the pan.

Proving his fitness

Any team considering taking a chance on Newton will be very interested in a physical examination given his recent injury history.

He battled a shoulder injury in 2018 and suffered a Lisfranc fracture last year, the latter issue limiting him to just two games. 

Newton's durability concerns may be a substantial worry for the Chargers, whose problems at offensive line led to much of Rivers' struggles in his final years with the team, though they have addressed the trenches by trading for guard Trai Turner and signing tackle Bryan Bulaga.

If Newton is to find a new home, he will need to prove he is healthy. Given the recent NFL order for teams to shut down their facilities due to the coronavirus pandemic, the opportunity to do so in a physical may not come for some time.

Newton is set to move on to the next stage of his NFL career but he may have to play the waiting game to find out where that will take place.

Marcus Mariota says he is under no illusions that he will be back-up quarterback to Derek Carr at the Las Vegas Raiders.

The 26-year-old penned a two-year highly incentivised contract with the Raiders, with his base 2020 salary said to be guaranteed at $7.5million and another $5.9m in potential add-ons.

Mariota won the coveted Heisman Trophy in 2014 but largely struggled during five seasons with the Tennessee Titans and lost his starting berth to Ryan Tannehill last season.

Speaking about his move to the Raiders, Mariota says he wanted to join a team that can bring out the best of his abilities even if for the time being he is behind Carr in the pecking order.

"First and foremost, this is Derek's team, and I understand that," Honolulu native Mariota told Hawaii-based KHON-TV.

"I understand that going in. My priority going into free agency was to be a part of a team that I felt could bring out the best in me. 

"Whatever happens, whatever comes of that, I'm ready for. But I do know, to play starting quarterback in the NFL, to be at that spot, is not an easy job to do. 

"And I think, when it comes down to it, a strong, stable supportive quarterback room makes that job a whole lot easier, and that's what we have to do. 

"And I'm going to do my best to support Derek in every possible way that I can, and along with that, I'm just going to try to become the best player that I can be and see where that takes me."

The Raiders went 7-9 last season and were officially renamed the Las Vegas Raiders in January.

Carr, 28, started 16 games for the Raiders last season, throwing for a career-high 4,054 yards, and is under contract through the 2022 campaign.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has told teams that all club facilities will be closed by Wednesday, with limited exceptions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the world, halting professional leagues and delaying the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo until next year due to the health crisis.

At least 18,900 people have died globally, with more than 422,780 confirmed cases.

As countries enforce stricter measures to combat the spread of the virus, Goodell said the shutdown of facilities will carry on until April 8, when the NFL will determine – with the advice of medical experts and public health officials – whether it is safe to reopen or elongate their closures.

The exemptions for who can work at facilities includes, employees providing ongoing medical treatment to players as well as employees necessary to maintaining the security and operational capabilities of the facilities.

"Over the past week, every NFL club has suspended normal business operations in response to the advice of medical experts and public health authorities," Goodell said in a statement sent to franchises on Tuesday via NFL Network.

"Last week, we agreed with the NFLPA to close all facilities to players other than those receiving medical treatment and rehabilitation. In the succeeding days, clubs took further steps to respond to current conditions and directed all but a limited number of staff to work remotely.

"In part, these changes were prompted by state or local government orders to 'stat at home' but in many other cases, clubs changed their practices to contribute to the national effort to employ remote work options as an essential element to reducing the rate of transmission of the COVID-19 virus and the risk of exposure.

"To ensure that all clubs operate on a level playing field, and that the NFL continues to conduct itself in a responsible way at this time, it is appropriate to outline certain principles that will apply during the current period. These principles have been reviewed with and endorsed by the Competition Committee and will remain in effect until further notice."

NFL teams, however, are still free to conduct player signings and evaluation of draft prospects among other operations linked to the 2020 season.

"The challenges we face are not unique -- many businesses and individuals throughout the country are experiencing and addressing similar issues," Goodell said. "Please be assured that the NFL is well-positioned to meet these operational challenges as we prepare to offer our fans and the country an outstanding 2020 NFL season."

Former NFL MVP Cam Newton has been released by the Carolina Panthers.

The team announced the decision in a statement released on Tuesday.

Carolina had previously confirmed they would allow Newton, the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, to seek a trade. The Panthers signed Teddy Bridgewater to be their starting quarterback in free agency.

Announcing Newton's release, Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said: "Cam has meant a lot to this organisation and the Carolinas.

"Everyone saw his performances on the field. I had the privilege of seeing how hard he worked off the field, and his commitment to this team when no one was watching.

"He's the ultimate competitor and it physically hurts him to lose. He willed this team to victory on many occasions and will always be considered one of the greatest players in the history of this franchise.

"His contributions to this team, this community and the game of football will leave a lasting impact on our organisation."

Newton won the MVP in the 2015 season, which saw him lead the Panthers to Super Bowl 50, where they lost to the Denver Broncos.

The Panthers made the playoffs in four of Newton's nine seasons with the team.

However, in recent years, Newton has been hindered by injuries.

Newton battled a shoulder injury in 2018, with a once-promising campaign derailed as the Panthers lost seven of their last eight games to finish 7-9.

He played only two games in 2019, losing both, with Lisfranc fracture forcing him to watch the rest of a 5-11 season from the sideline.

The Panthers fired head coach Ron Rivera in December, with Carolina now starting a rebuild under Matt Rhule.

Newton will not be part of that rebuild, and leaves the Panthers having thrown for 29,041 yards, 182 touchdowns and 108 interceptions.

Tom Brady has been signed for what he can accomplish with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and not for his past achievements, insists general manager Jason Licht.

As Licht introduced Brady on a media conference call on Tuesday, he stated his hope that the 42-year-old’s signing would "define the franchise for many years to come".

Brady appeared in nine Super Bowls, winning six of them across a magnificent 20-year run with the New England Patriots.

Licht declared his arrival as the start of a new era for his franchise, who are without a playoff appearance since 2007, as he thanked owners the Glazer family for supporting the move.

He also backed Brady to have a "transformative effect" on the team's culture.

"To say that this is an exciting day for the Buccaneers organisation and me personally would be a rather large understatement,” Licht told reporters.

"He is a Buccaneer today not for what he has done in the past but for what we know he can accomplish here in the near future as well.

"We know that Tom is going to have a transformative effect on our locker room and he's gonna demand the best out of himself, his team-mates and anybody that is around him.

"I would like to thank the Glazer family for providing us with the resources and the leadership to make such a bold move in free agency. 

"We wouldn't be here today if not for their passion and desire to win another Super Bowl, hopefully more, for our fans. This was an all-out effort from every level of the organisation.

"Today we begin a new era for the Buccaneers that will define our franchise for many years to come."

Licht, whose team have moved on from QB Jameis Winston after five seasons, did not hesitate to bring in veteran Brady when the opportunity presented itself in free agency.

He added: "Tom is quite simply the greatest quarterback to play the game of football and any time you can add someone of his calibre you instantly make your organisation better.

"He has got a long list of truly remarkable accomplishments in his career, too many to mention.

"Going after Tom in free agency was our number one priority this offseason because we knew he would be a perfect fit for what we are trying to do here."

Bruce Arians revealed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were "never really dreaming" Tom Brady would become available as they entered NFL free agency.

Brady, 42, has joined the Bucs on a two-year contract after spending 20 years with the New England Patriots, for whom he won six Super Bowls and nine AFC Championships.

As the quarterback was introduced on Tuesday, Bucs coach Arians explained the team had looked at every option at the position, as they ultimately moved on from former number one overall pick Jameis Winston.

They knew Brady would be their top priority if he opted to leave the Pats, but they did not truly believe it would happen.

"We do our due diligence every year after a season to see how we can better our football team and better our organisation," Arians told reporters.

"We looked at everybody that might be available at the quarterback position, obviously really never dreaming that Tom would be available.

"But if he was, he was he going to be our number one choice."

While Arians is a huge fan of Brady's playing ability, it is the veteran's leadership that he craved most for a Bucs franchise without a playoff appearance since 2007 and with only one Super Bowl victory in their history.

"He can make every throw and do everything that we want to do in our offense but more than that it was his leadership ability that we need in our locker room to get where we want to go," said Arians.

"So once that [bringing in Brady] became a reality, it was see what we have got to do and see if we can get this done.

"To have Tom lead our football team into the future… I have been very, very blessed as a coach to have been around some of the great ones and now [I am blessed] to have the greatest one of all time.

"Not for me because of what he does on the field but because of what he does to his team-mates. 

"He makes everyone who walks into that huddle better. I'm really just excited to get started. I'm extremely excited and wish we could start practice tomorrow."

As much as the NFL world would like to talk about the ins and outs of his New England Patriots exit, Tom Brady does not want to discuss the past.

That much was made clear as Brady took part in an introductory conference call on Tuesday following his decision to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a two-year deal.

While Brady's focus is on getting to know a talented supporting cast of receivers and learning head coach Bruce Arians' offense, he was predictably met with questions about his departure from a team with whom he won an unprecedented six Super Bowls over 20 storied seasons.

He was asked about reported claims from Patriots owner Robert Kraft that it was Brady's choice to leave and that New England could have worked out a deal had he not desired to move elsewhere.

"I'm not responsible for how other people will say certain things," Brady replied. "Mr. Kraft has been a great influence in my life. I'm so grateful for two decades.

"It's been an amazing thing for my family. When I'm done playing, I'll have a chance to really re-evaluate my entire career. At the same time, I'm excited for this opportunity that I have.

"I can only speak to how I feel. I wrote about that in my social media the other day. Getting to be a free agent and having the opportunity to join the Bucs was something that I was really excited about and that's why we're at where we're at."

Pressed on whether he was disappointed the Patriots perhaps did not make more of an effort to bring him back, Brady responded: "There's nobody who's been a bigger fan of the Patriots than me. I have nothing but total respect and love. I'm so grateful to Mr. Kraft and the organisation and coach [Bill] Belichick and all the coaches and obviously all my team-mates.

"It's been a lot of days responding to a lot of incredible text messages from team-mates, from former team-mates, just a lot of great people I've got to meet over the years. I have so many great relationships that will be maintained. It'll be different but at the same time that's the way life can be at times. What won't be different is my approach to the game. I'm going to go out every day to do the best I can to put our team in a position to win."

Brady was predictably unwilling to discuss what it would have taken to remain in New England but did concede the transition from face of the league's greatest dynasty to former Patriot has been an emotional one.

"I don't want to talk about the past because it's not relevant to what's important in my future," he added. "I had two decades of incredible experience and learning from some of the best players and the best coaches and the ownership of the team. Things in life can change, you've got to be able to adapt and evolve. With each of those changes come different opportunities to learn and grow.

"Anytime you leave somewhere it's very emotional. The transition was very emotional with a lot of guys I've talked to that I shared the field with. The relationships are what matter most to me, I'm going to be friends with my team-mates, my former team-mates and coaches for the rest of my life.

"That's not going to leave just because I'm wearing a different jersey. At the same time for me, the new jersey I'm wearing, I'm prepared to give them every bit of commitment I've had my entire career to be the best I can be to help this team be the best it could be. I'm just excited to get started."

Devin McCourty knows NFL fans and analysts are "already burying" the New England Patriots and declaring their dynasty as over following the departure of Tom Brady.

Quarterback Brady, a six-time Super Bowl winner with the Pats, joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency.

Safety McCourty thought he was going to be following Brady out of New England but ultimately agreed a new two-year deal.

Keeping the franchise's run of success going at a time they are being written off was one of the key motivations in his decision to stay.

"People are going to say that because Tom's gone, the dynasty is over," McCourty wrote in The Players' Tribune.

"They're already burying us, far as I can tell. And that's fine. Let 'em. We've never listened to the noise, and we're not about to start now.

"But the task is definitely taller this coming year than it has been in years past. There's more work to do. And it's not gonna be so easy this time around.

"That's where the new challenge comes in. I thought I had to leave New England to find what I was looking for.

"But it turns out that there is no greater challenge for me right now than leading this Patriots team into a new era and helping ensure that this next wave of players can continue our legacy.

"So much of my development as a football player and as a man has been here in New England, and it's an honour to hopefully be able to finish my career here and be a Patriot for life."

The Patriots keeping his brother Jason was the other key factor in the decision to stay, as Devin added: "I honestly thought it was time for me to leave New England.

"Going into free agency, I was thinking that at this stage in my career, I was ready for a change.

"I love New England. But after 10 years and winning three Super Bowls, something inside was telling me that I was ready for a new challenge. And I thought I might have to go elsewhere to find it.

"Then my brother's option got picked up... as much as I wanted a new challenge in my career, I also told myself from the jump that if there was an opportunity to play with my brother again, I would take it.

"I've had more fun playing alongside him these last two years than I have in my entire career. So, I got what I wanted: I get to play with my brother again. We're keeping the family together."

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