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Cam Newton claimed the Carolina Panthers "forced" him into seeking a trade as he delivered an angry response to the team's story on his expected departure.

The Panthers released a statement on Tuesday saying they had "given Cam Newton permission to seek a trade", ending a nine-year run for the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Though new Carolina head coach Matt Rhule stated earlier in the offseason that he "absolutely" wanted to keep the 2015 NFL MVP on the roster, the news comes as no surprise given foot and shoulder injuries have plagued Newton in recent seasons and the Panthers are rebuilding.

In the statement, general manager Marty Hurney said: "Every year difficult decisions are made and they are never easy. We have been working with Cam and his agent to find the best fit for him moving forward and he will always be a Carolina Panther in our hearts."

However, the wording of the statement - and the suggestion it was the Panthers who had allowed Newton to explore other options - led to the 30-year-old biting back.

"Stop with the word play!!" he wrote in an Instagram comment under the team's story.

"I never asked for it!! There is no dodging this one; I love the @panthers to death and will always love you guys!!

"Please do not try and play me or manipulate the narrative and act like I wanted this; you forced me into this!!"

Tight end Greg Olsen, who signed for the Seattle Seahawks last month after being released by Carolina, wrote in a comment: "Sounds familiar".

Newton, who led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50, where they lost to the Denver Broncos, is set to leave Carolina having thrown for 29,041 yards, 182 touchdowns and 108 interceptions in his career.

The Carolina Panthers have given Cam Newton permission to seek a trade.

Carolina announced they would allow the 2011 first overall pick to explore opportunities to join a new team on Tuesday following a meeting between the 2015 NFL MVP and general manager Marty Hurney.

"One of the distinct pleasures of my career was selecting Cam with the first pick in the 2011 draft," Hurney told the team's official website.

"Every year difficult decisions are made and they are never easy. We have been working with Cam and his agent to find the best fit for him moving forward and he will always be a Carolina Panther in our hearts."

Newton led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50 but was unable to cap his MVP season with the franchise's first Lombardi Trophy as Carolina suffered a 24-10 defeat to the Denver Broncos.

More recently, Newton's career has been blighted by injury. He played through a shoulder issue in 2018 as a once-promising Panthers season saw them miss the playoffs.

Last year, Newton featured in only two games before a Lisfranc fracture in his foot forced him to watch the rest of a 5-11 season from the sidelines.

Newton's prospective exit is the most significant step in the Panthers' rebuild under new head coach Matt Rhule, who replaced Ron Rivera in January.

A three-time Pro Bowler, Newton is set to leave the Panthers having thrown for 29,041 yards, 182 touchdowns and 108 interceptions in his career in Carolina.

The Panthers are rumoured to have strong interest in former Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as a potential replacement for Newton.

Carolina also hold the number seven overall pick in the 2020 draft.

Bill Belichick stressed he "will always have a great relationship" with Tom Brady after it was confirmed the quarterback will leave the New England Patriots.

Brady and Belichick enjoyed a hugely successful two-decade run as head coach and quarterback in New England, winning six Lombardi Trophies and reaching the Super Bowl on nine occasions.

Yet while Belichick will be back on the New England sideline in 2020, 42-year-old Brady will be elsewhere having confirmed he will be signing elsewhere in free agency.

There have been murmurings that the two have not always seen eye to eye in recent years, yet Belichick paid a glowing tribute to the outgoing Brady in an official statement from the Patriots.

"Tom was not just a player who bought into our programme, he was one of its original creators," Belichick said.

"Tom lived and perpetuated our culture. On a daily basis, he was a tone setter and a bar raiser. He won championships in three of his first four years on the field and in three of his final six seasons with us, while competing for championships in most every season in between. 

"This is a credit to Tom's consistency and what separates him. He didn't just perform. He didn't just win. He won championships over and over again.

"Tom and I will always have a great relationship built on love, admiration, respect and appreciation. Tom's success as a player and his character as a person are exceptional. 

"Nothing about the end of Tom's Patriots career changes how unfathomably spectacular it was. With his relentless competitiveness and longevity, he earned everyone's adoration and will be celebrated forever. It has been a privilege to coach Tom Brady for 20 years.

"Examples of Tom's greatness are limitless, going back even before he was drafted. We witnessed how he prepared when he wasn't playing, how he performed when he got his opportunity, what he did to continuously improve, his leadership, his mindset, the example he set, and, of course, the person he is. I am extremely grateful for what he did for our team and for me personally.

"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."

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who, like Belichick, held his post when Brady was drafted in 2000, admitted it had been his wish to see the quarterback retire in New England.

"I love Tom like a son and I always will," Kraft said.

"He has brought so much happiness to me personally and to all of our fans. I had hoped this day would never come, but rather that Tom would end his remarkable career in a Patriots uniform after yet another Super Bowl championship.

"Unfortunately, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement to allow that dream to become a reality."

Kraft added: "There simply will never be another Tom Brady."

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has revealed his disappointment at Tom Brady's departure, but stressed the long-serving quarterback has "earned that right" to decide to move on.

Free agent Brady confirmed on Tuesday that "my football journey will take place elsewhere", bringing an end to a glorious two-decade run in New England that included six Super Bowl titles.

Kraft was the owner when Brady was drafted with the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL Draft and he had said earlier this offseason that he hoped the 42-year-old either remained with the Patriots, or retired.

But Kraft will not get his wish, having spoken with Brady on Monday and being informed of his intentions.

"Tommy initiated contact last night and came over," Kraft explained to ESPN.

"We had a positive, respectful discussion.

"It's not the way I want it to end, but I want him to do what is in his best personal interest.

"After 20 years with us, he has earned that right. I love him like a son."

Brady added that he does not "know what my football future holds", though it is thought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Chargers will be among those keen to acquire the veteran quarterback in free agency.

Tom Brady - the most successful quarterback in NFL history - has confirmed he will leave the New England Patriots.

Speculation over Brady's future has swirled since the Patriots, with whom he has won a record six Super Bowls, were eliminated from last season's playoffs in the wildcard round by the Tennessee Titans.

In a Twitter post on Tuesday titled 'FOREVER A PATRIOT', the 42-year-old signal caller revealed he will now look to continue his "football journey" elsewhere.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have emerged as the favourites to sign Brady, although the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders are also among the many franchises to have been linked with the veteran.

"To all my team-mates, coaches, executives and staff, Coach Belichick, RKK and the Kraft family and the entire organization. I want to say thank you for the past 20 years of my life and the daily commitment to winning and creating a winning culture built on great values," wrote Brady.

"I am grateful for all that you have taught me - I have learned from everyone. You all have allowed me to maximize my potential and that is all a player can ever hope for. 

"Everything we have accomplished brings me great joy and the lessons I have learned will carry on with me forever. I couldn't be the man I am today without the relationships you have allowed me to build with you.

"I have benefited from all you have given me. I cherished every opportunity I had to be part of our team, and I love you all for that. Our team has always set a great standard in pro sports and I know it will continue to do just that.

"Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM accomplishments.

"I have been privileged to have had the opportunity to know each and every one of you, and to have the memories we've created together."

After famously being drafted in round six in 2000 as the 199th overall pick, Brady became the Patriots' starting QB in his second season and immediately won Super Bowl XXXVI, also claiming MVP honours.

A further five Super Bowl successes followed, with Brady the MVP in three of the games.

He will leave the Patriots having thrown for 74,571 yards and 541 touchdowns - tallies topped only by Drew Brees in NFL history - in 285 appearances.

In a second Twitter post titled 'LOVE YOU PATS NATION', he added: "I wanted to say thank you to all of the incredible fans and Patriots supporters.

"MA has been my home for 20 years. It has truly been the happiest two decades I could have envisioned in my life and I have nothing but love and gratitude for my time in New England.

"The support has been overwhelming - I wish every player could experience it. My children were born and raised here and you always embraced this California kid as your own. I love your commitment and loyalty to your teams and winning for our city means more than you will ever know.

"I can't thank you enough for the support of our team. The packed training camps and sold out stadiums and mostly the victory parades. I have been so blessed to share them with you all.

"I tried to represent us always in the best and most honorable way, and I fought hard with my team-mates to help bring victory and triumph even in the most dire situations. You opened your heart to me, and I opened my heart to you. And Pats Nation will always be a part of me. 

"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. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I will always love you and what we have shared - a lifetime full of fun memories."

While Brady's Patriots career has been studded with countless highs, one notable low point came with the 'Deflategate' scandal in the 2014 AFC Championship Game, which resulted in him being suspended for four matches following a lengthy investigation involving numerous court rulings.

After two decades as a New England Patriot, Tom Brady will be wearing a different uniform in 2020.

The six-time Super Bowl winner was drafted by the Patriots in 2000 and has played 326 games for New England in the regular season and playoffs.

Yet Brady has not agreed a new deal with the Patriots, who in turn will not apply the franchise tag to their quarterback, and he confirmed on Tuesday that he will continue his "football journey" elsewhere.

The 42-year-old is not alone in being a great quarterback who switched late in his career, though, and here we take a look at others who wound up moving away from the franchises they became synonymous with. 

 

PEYTON MANNING

The Indianapolis Colts' Lucas Oil Stadium is known as 'The House That Peyton Built', such is Manning's standing in the Hoosier State

Manning, the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, took the Colts to the playoffs in 11 of his 13 seasons as the starter, but in 2012 Indy cut ties rather than pay an aging quarterback coming off a succession of neck surgeries a $28million bonus.

The Colts also had the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft which they spent on Andrew Luck, then considered the most sure-fire QB prospect since, well, Manning.

But 'The Sheriff' was not done. In four seasons with the Denver Broncos he twice made the Super Bowl, set NFL single-season records for passing yardage (5,477) and touchdowns thrown (55) and added a second ring at Super Bowl 50, after which he headed off into the sunset.

 

JOE MONTANA

Brady's childhood hero won four Super Bowl rings across 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, though he would end his career as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Montana missed virtually all of 1991 and 1992 with an elbow injury and in 1993, faced with one of the biggest quarterback controversies of all time, the Niners decided to apply their succession plan and stick with reigning MVP Steve Young under center.

So Montana was shipped to Kansas City, where he took the Chiefs to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons before calling it a day.

At the culmination of Montana's final season in 1994, the Niners won their fifth Super Bowl title with Young as the starting signal caller.

BRETT FAVRE

Though Favre was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons, it was in TitleTown where the gunslinger made his name as he racked up the yards and records across 16 seasons and led the Green Bay Packers to victory at Super Bowl XXXI.

Favre appeared content to bow out in March 2008, when Aaron Rodgers had been identified as his heir apparent, yet things got messy when the veteran performed a retirement U-turn in July.

Green Bay had no interest in trading him to the Minnesota Vikings, their rivals in the NFC North, so Favre was moved to the New York Jets, where he spent one up-and-down season before retiring again.

Yet in 2009 Favre did the unthinkable and signed for the Vikings. Minnesota went all the way to the NFC Championship Game - beating the Packers twice in the regular season along the way - but Father Time appeared to have finally caught up with Favre in the 2010 season and on this occasion his retirement stuck.

 

JOE NAMATH

While his statistics do not measure up to Brady, Manning et al, Hall of Famer Namath is still one of the most renowned NFL quarterbacks of all time.

His "guarantee" that the underdog New York Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III is etched into NFL folklore.

Away from the gridiron, 'Broadway Joe' was perhaps the NFL's first celebrity and it seemed fitting that he went from the Big Apple to the City of Stars, signing for the Los Angeles Rams in 1977 after he had gone 4-17 as a starter in the previous two seasons.

However, by that point, injuries had taken their toll and Namath's time in the NFL ended with a four-interception outing against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. At least he was in the right place to launch his acting career...

A chapter looks set to be closed on one of the most successful eras in NFL history after the New England Patriots confirmed Tom Brady would hit free agency.

New England certainly got plenty of value from their 199th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, Brady establishing himself as a franchise quarterback and leading the Pats to six Super Bowl titles.

With the team and their most iconic player now parting ways, we remember Brady's best moments as a Patriot.

 

A LEGEND IS BORN

Nineteen years ago, the course of the NFL was altered forever when Jets linebacker Mo Lewis delivered a brutal hit on Drew Bledsoe, leaving New England's then starting quarterback with internal bleeding.

The relatively unknown Brady stepped into the breach in Week 2 and led New England all the way to the Super Bowl, keeping his job even after Bledsoe returned to fitness.

Bill Belichick's team were huge underdogs against the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, though with 1:21 to play, the Patriots had the ball on their own 17-yard line and the game was tied at 17-17.

New England had no timeouts left and commentator John Madden famously said they should "play for overtime", but a nerveless Brady drove them into field-goal position and Adam Vinatieri did the rest to kick-start a dynasty.

THE (NEAR) PERFECT SEASON

The 2007 season is remembered for the one loss New England had, in Super Bowl XLII to the New York Giants, but their incredible campaign certainly deserves to be celebrated.

New England acquired receivers Wes Welker and Randy Moss in the offseason and the Brady-led offense proved unstoppable, the quarterback throwing for an NFL record 50 touchdowns - 22 more than he had previously managed in a campaign.

The Pats went 16-0 in the regular season and Brady won the first of his three MVP awards, but the Giants spoilt an otherwise perfect season in Arizona.

 

FIVE TOUCHDOWNS IN ONE QUARTER

Not enough is made of Brady's remarkable performances in cold weather, and his skill in the snow was especially evident during a 59-0 regular-season rout of the Tennessee Titans in 2009.

In the second quarter alone, Brady set an NFL record for touchdown passes in one quarter as Welker and Moss each caught two apiece and Kevin Faulk hauled in a score as well.

This performance came in his first season back from a serious knee injury that kept him out of virtually the entire 2008 campaign.

 

A UNANIMOUS MVP

Three years after being voted the NFL's best, Brady won the respect of his peers again, only this time everyone was in agreement.

All 50 voters selected Brady as the MVP of the 2010 season and he became the award's first ever unanimous winner.

Consistency was the key for the quarterback as the Pats went 14-2, with Brady completing a record streak of 335 throws without an interception at one point in the season.

 

A FIFTH SUPER BOWL RING

Any doubts about Brady's status as the greatest to ever grace the gridiron were surely banished once and for all when he became the first quarterback to win enough rings to furnish one hand.

The Atlanta Falcons were 28-3 up late in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI in Houston, yet Brady, then 39, made history by leading New England to the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.

James White ran in the winning score in overtime, but it was Brady who walked away with his fourth Super Bowl MVP award after throwing for 466 yards in a 34-28 success.

Tom Brady is set to hit NFL free agency, ending a glorious two-decade run with the New England Patriots.

The 42-year-old quarterback will be out of contract when the new NFL year begins on March 18, meaning for the first time in his illustrious career, he is poised to play elsewhere in 2020.

Here we take a look at Brady's records and statistics from his time as a Patriot.

 

199th pick - 198 players were selected in the 2000 NFL Draft - including six quarterbacks - before New England took Brady, an unheralded quarterback from the University of Michigan.

326 games - Brady made a total of 326 appearances for the Patriots - 285 in the regular season and 41 in the playoffs - since debuting in 2000. All but two of those appearances have been starts.

249 victories - No other quarterback can compete with Brady's 249 wins as a starter across the regular season and postseason. Drew Brees, with 171, is the next closest.

Six rings - The Patriots made nine Super Bowls during the Brady era. He owns the most Super Bowl victories among all players, one more than Charles Haley and two more than fellow quarterbacks Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw.

Four Super Bowl MVPs - Brady also leads the way in MVP awards for the big game. Only five players have been named Super Bowl MVP on more than one occasion (Brady, Montana, Bradshaw, Bart Starr and Eli Manning).

14 Pro Bowls - His Super Bowl appearances meant Brady had to miss many of the Pro Bowls he was nominated for, but he holds the record for most nods, along with Tony Gonzalez, Peyton Manning, Bruce Matthews and Merlin Olsen.

45 fourth-quarter comebacks - Peyton Manning may have more fourth-quarter comebacks in the regular season (43 to Brady's 36), yet his great rival has nine in the postseason compared to The Sheriff's two.

58 game-winning drives - In all six of New England's Super Bowl victories, Brady has engineered a game-winning drive. In the regular season, he is behind just Peyton Manning, Brees and Dan Marino in that category.

74,571 yards - Brees is the only signal caller to have thrown for more yards than Brady in the regular season, and the man second on the list is just 2,845 yards behind.

541 passing touchdowns - It's neck and neck between the two in the category of most touchdowns thrown in the regular season, too, with Brees leading the way on 547 scores.

Jimmy Graham has agreed a two-year deal with the Chicago Bears following his release from their NFC North rivals the Green Bay Packers.

According to widespread reports, Graham has struck a deal with the Bears that will pay him a total of $16million across the 2020 and 2021 seasons, with $9m guaranteed.

The 33-year-old gives the Bears another option at tight end, a position from which they struggled for production last season.

Graham spent two seasons with the Packers, not missing a game as he posted 100 receptions for 1,191 yards with five touchdowns in 34 outings, including two appearances in the playoffs.

The five-time Pro Bowler previously played for the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks.

Graham got a headstart on free agency when he was released on Thursday with a year left on his deal with the Packers, who he will now face twice a year.

"The last two years have certainly been interesting! A lot of memories, friendships and humbling moments that I will carry with me into the next opportunity," Graham wrote on Twitter after his release.

"Thank you for the support during our exciting run this year toward that ever so elusive ring."

There was another Packers departure as linebacker Blake Martinez agreed a three-year, $30m deal with the New York Giants.

The Packers replaced him with Christian Kirksey while also bringing in offensive tackle Rick Wagner.

Stefon Diggs appeared to confirm he had been traded from the Minnesota Vikings to the Buffalo Bills.

The Bills are sending four picks – a first-, fifth- and sixth-rounder in 2020 and fourth-rounder in 2021 – to the Vikings for the wide receiver, according to ESPN.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen tweeted: "Ya Digg?"

Responding to Allen, Diggs wrote: "LETS GET IT."

Diggs was drafted by the Vikings in 2015 and has enjoyed two of his best seasons in 2018 and 2019.

He had 1,130 receiving yards last year, while he caught nine touchdown passes in 2018.

The Las Vegas Raiders have reportedly agreed terms with former Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Mariota was the second pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but struggled during his five seasons with the Titans.

The 26-year-old started six times for the Titans last season before losing his spot to Ryan Tannehill.

Mariota played 63 games for Tennessee, throwing for 13,207 yards with 76 touchdowns and 44 interceptions, and NFL Network reports he has agreed to join the Raiders.

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

Derek 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 offseason programs have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, while new guidelines were introduced around free agency.

Teams with new head coaches were scheduled to begin their offseason programs on April 6, with the rest due to start two weeks later.

However, the NFL announced on Monday it had agreed with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) to indefinitely delay the programs due to COVID-19.

Teams have been told to close their facilities to players, other than those undergoing medically supervised rehab, for the next two weeks.

"Based on the most recent guidance provided by leading health officials, and in consultation with the NFLPA and both our and the union's medical advisors, we believe this is the appropriate way to protect the health of our players, staff, and our communities," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

"We will continue to make decisions based on the best advice from medical and public health experts and will be prepared to make further modifications as needed."

The NFL also announced teams cannot bring in prospective free agents "to a club facility or other location to meet with club personnel" when the start of the new league year officially begins on March 18.

Team personnel, including medical staff, cannot travel to meet a prospective free agent.

"The NFL and NFLPA are developing protocols that will provide clubs with opportunities to review a free agent player's medical records from his prior club[s] and to arrange for a free agent player to have a medical exam in the player's home city or at another nearby location," a statement said.

"These steps are consistent with those announced last Friday for club contact with draft-eligible college players."

The NFL announced earlier on Monday that the 2020 draft would go ahead on April 23-25, but with no fans present.

Byron Jones will reportedly become the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL after agreeing to terms with the Miami Dolphins.

ESPN reports Jones, 27, has agreed a five-year deal worth $82.5million, including $57m guaranteed, with Miami.

Jones was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 and spent five seasons with the team, earning Pro Bowl selection in 2018.

He returned to cornerback in 2018 after spending two years at safety.

ESPN also reported that former Carolina Panthers cornerback James Bradberry was heading to the New York Giants on a three-year, $45m deal.

The San Francisco 49ers have signed Arik Armstead to a five-year contract extension, while DeForest Buckner is reportedly heading elsewhere in a trade.

Selected by the franchise in the first round of the 2015 draft, Armstead has appeared in 62 games - 43 of them as a starter - in his NFL career with San Francisco.

The defensive lineman enjoyed an outstanding 2019 season too, registering 54 tackles, 10 sacks and two forced fumbles as the 49ers reached the Super Bowl, albeit they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami.

His new deal runs through the 2024 season and while details were not officially disclosed, it is reportedly worth $85million.

"We are very pleased to have come together with Arik and his representatives to complete this contract extension prior to free agency," said 49ers general manager John Lynch.

"Arik's physical tools and versatility have allowed him to be highly productive in our style of defense, and we look forward to watching him take his game to an even higher level as he grows within our scheme.

"Arik has been an impact player on the field and a difference-maker in our community, and we are excited for what the future holds for him."

Buckner, however, is said to be on the move from San Francisco, with NFL insiders on social media reporting the defensive lineman is to be traded to the Indianapolis Colts.

The 49ers get the 13th pick in this year's draft in return for a player who made the Pro Bowl in 2018, while Buckner will net a lucrative contract extension from his new employers.

The 2020 NFL Draft will take place as planned in April, though there will no public events held in Las Vegas due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement released by the league revealed the decision was made following guidance from medical experts such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and in conjunction with authorities in Nevada.

The draft, which will run from April 23 until 25, will still be televised, though, while the NFL are looking into "innovative options" for how the process will be conducted.

"This decision reflects our foremost priority - the health and safety of all fans and citizens," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.

"While this outcome is disappointing both to the NFL and to the Las Vegas community, we look forward to partnering with the Raiders, the city of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for a future NFL Draft as well as evaluating opportunities for other major NFL events in Las Vegas in the future, including the Super Bowl."

The CDC recommended on Sunday that gatherings of 50 people or more in the United States should be cancelled or postponed for the next two months.

Las Vegas was selected to host the draft ahead of the Raiders' first season in the city since relocating from Oakland.

The Cincinnati Bengals will have the first overall pick.

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