While Brady didn’t say one way or another that he had plans to play for the Patriots next season, Kraft told Peter King’s Football Morning in America column that he’s given Brady free rein to make a decision on his own but hopes he has New England in his heart.
“Before the season started, it was very important to Tom that he be free to do whatever he wanted at the end of the year. You know what I said to myself? That any person who plays 20 years for this team and helps us get to six Super Bowls, and been really selfless, has earned that right,” Kraft said.
“I love the young man like he’s part of my family. Blood family. Anyone who’s done that has earned the right to control his future after 20 years. And you know, my hope and prayer is number one, he plays for the Patriots. Or number two, he retires. He has the freedom to decide what he wants to do and what’s in his own best personal interest.”
Kraft acknowledged that great quarterbacks who play elsewhere don’t tend to continue their great careers.
“I’m thinking of all that, of all the quarterbacks who went elsewhere, and I just hope and believe that Tom … he is so special that he’s earned the right to do what’s best for him,” Kraft said. “But I just hope and pray we fit into his plans. He is unique in the kind of leader he is, his work ethic, his selfless nature, everything. Think about it: He’s been with us 20 percent of the life of the NFL.”
Brady’s contract with the Patriots voids in March. He told King in the same column that he plans to explore whatever opportunities come his way.
“I’ll explore those opportunities whenever they are,” he said. “If it’s the Patriots, great. If that doesn’t work, I don’t know. I just don’t know. I love playing football. I still want to play football. I think I still can play at a championship level. I’ve just got to go do it. I’m motivated to get back to work and training.”