Quarterback Tom Brady has announced he is leaving the New England Patriots after a 20-year spell with the team, which has seen him win six Super Bowls.
Brady, 42, was drafted by the Patriots in 2000 and helped them win the Super Bowl in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016 and, at the age of 41, in 2018.
He has also been on the losing team in the Super Bowl on three occasions.
“Pats Nation will always be a part of me, I don’t know what my football future holds,” said Brady.
“It is time for me to open a new stage for my life and career.
“Although my football career will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything we have achieved and am grateful for our team accomplishments.”
Brady is a free agent this off-season and was able to speak to rival teams from Monday with the full free agency window opening on Wednesday.
In a statement posted on social media, Brady added: “I wanted to say thank you to all of the incredible fans and Patriots supporters.
“MA [Massachusetts] has been my home for 20 years, it has truly been the happiest two decades I could’ve 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.”
Where could Brady go?
One place Brady will not be going is New Orleans. Drew Brees, the only man with more all-time passing yards and touchdown passes than Brady, has confirmed he will stay with the Saints, whose back-up quarterback Teddy Bridgwater is now a free agent.
But the Los Angeles Chargers need a new QB with veteran Philip Rivers leaving, while Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians has named Brady as a potential target after Jameis Winston became the first man to go 30 for 30 – throwing 30 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions in the same season.
The Raiders are relocating from Oakland to Vegas and may consider trading Derek Carr in favour of a big name to help fill their new 65,000-seater stadium and create a buzz around Sin City.
Tennessee was touted as a possible destination until Ryan Tannehill, who took the Titans to within one game of the Super Bowl after becoming the starter mid-season, signed an extension on Sunday.
Who would replace Brady?
Rivers and Winston are both free agents, and Andy Dalton could be made available too. The Cincinnati Bengals have this year’s first draft pick and are expected to choose highly-rated QB Joe Burrow, allowing Dalton to move on.
Surprisingly, the San Francisco 49ers, who were less than three minutes from winning Super Bowl 54, have emerged as a potential suitor for Brady. It’s been rumoured that Brady’s boyhood club are interested in bringing him home to California and trading his former back-up Jimmy Garoppolo back to the Patriots.
And the likes of Cam Newton, Joe Flacco and Nick Foles, who have all led teams to the Super Bowl in the last seven years, may also be given the chance to start afresh after poor form and injuries. The speculation is just getting started.