FOXBORO — Tom Brady’s legacy as the best quarterback of all-time was cemented long before his final season in New England. Those six Super Bowl banners will forever hang inside Gillette Stadium. His photos are likely to continue to hang around Patriot Place as this region will never forget about the “GOAT.”
The breaking NFL news on Tuesday won’t change that.
During the 2019 season, Brady was communicating with Miami Dolphins vice chairman and limited partner Bruce Beal. The conversation started in August when the quarterback was in his final training camp with the Patriots. According to the NFL, that’s when the Dolphins organization started to tamper with Brady in an attempt to lure the quarterback to Miami when free agency hit that next offseason. The NFL says those conversations with Beal, who relayed the message to ownership, continued through the 2019 season and into the offseason.
The Dolphins organization was docked its 2023 first-round pick and 2024 third-round pick because of the tampering charges announced Tuesday.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told The Providence Journal that Brady won’t be disciplined for what transpired with the Dolphins brass.
The news on Tuesday complicated things slightly for Brady, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and the New England organization. It doesn’t make Brady look good that he was talking to the Dolphins while his team was in training camp or fighting for a playoff spot in the regular season. Although it doesn’t seem like the news was enough to strike a blow to Brady’s relationship with owner Robert Kraft or alienate himself from a loyal fan base, it certainly makes things a bit awkward.
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Does it complicate Brady’s legacy? Not really. He helped bring six Super Bowl championships to the Patriots.
Does it shine more light on just how much he wanted to leave New England why things felt off in 2019? Absolutely.
On Wednesday, Belichick would not comment on the Dolphins’ situation.
“Yeah, I’m not really worried about that,” Belichick said when he was asked about the news. “I’m just trying to get training camp in.”
When he was asked if he knew that the Dolphins were tampering with Brady in 2019, Belichick said, “I’m focused on training camp here. That’s all in the past.”
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If we look back in the past, however, it starts to make more sense why Brady seemed “off” that summer. In fact, several events that happened then shine a light on the quarterback, and now it’s clear he had one foot out the Gillette Stadium door during his final season in Foxboro.
Things started to get weird that August — when the tampering with the Dolphins began.
On Aug. 4, 2019, Brady signed a new extension with the Patriots that was unlike anything we’ve seen before in New England. This new deal automatically voided at the end of the 2019 season and made it so the Patriots were unable to place the franchise tag on the quarterback.
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Two days later, on Aug. 6, Brady and his wife, Gisele Bundchen, put their Massachusetts mansion up for sale. It wasn’t long before Brady’s trainer, Alex Guerrero, put his home up for sale as well. That Brady put up his house for sale two days after signing that new deal should have told us tat something was amiss.
As the 2019 season unfolded, Brady was rarely seen in the locker room when the media was present. That wasn’t usual for him. In fact, when he spoke, he voiced his frustration over roster moves, like when the team briefly released Ben Watson, and he offered non-comments on younger receivers such as N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers. Brady seemed agitated when the team released veterans Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon as well that season.
On Nov. 17, things were tense around the quarterback. Following the Patriots’ 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Brady was angry at the podium and delivered terse responses to reporters’ questions. He took nine questions in just under a minute and 50 seconds.
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On Dec. 10, Brady stepped down as the cochair of the Best Buddies Challenge. The quarterback had been affiliated with the organization, which benefits people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In January 2020, following the Patriots’ 20-13 wild-card loss to Tennessee in the playoffs, Brady and his family didn’t stick around Massachusetts. A source told The Providence Journal at the time that the Bradys pulled their children out of their Massachusetts school and briefly left for their residence in New York.
This all led to free agency and Brady signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and not the Dolphins. The strange events throughout the 2019 season portend Brady’s exit. The NFL news this week shed more light on why the Patriots legend looked then as if he wanted to leave. At that point, Brady was clearly done with the Patriots.
Does that put a stain on what the quarterback accomplished in New England? Absolutely not.
It might make a reunion with Belichick or Kraft more awkward, but championship rings solve most problems. Thanks to Brady, the Patriots have plenty of those. That will never change.