Tom Brady was drafted by the New England Patriots back in 2000 and has spent his entire NFL career with the team

By Lindsay Kimble Benjamin VanHoose
March 17, 2020 09:00 AM

Tom Brady is saying goodbye to New England.

The 42-year-old — who is the winningest quarterback in NFL history — announced on Tuesday that he is leaving the New England Patriots after becoming a free agent for the first time. Brady shared the decision on social media, writing lengthy thank you messages to his teammates, coaches and fans.

“Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM accomplishments,” he wrote on Instagram. “I have been privileged to have had the opportunity to know each and everyone of you, and to have the memories we’ve created together.”

It is still unclear what team Brady will now join.

The quarterback was drafted by the Patriots in 2000, and won six Super Bowl championships with the team.

Speaking directly to his “incredible” New England fans, Brady wrote that the “support has been overwhelming” and that he wishes “every player could experience it.”

“I love your commitment and loyalty to your teams and winning for out city means more than you will ever know,” Brady wrote. “… I have been so blessed to share them with you all.”

Adam Glanzman/Getty

“I tried to represent us always in the best and most honorable way, and I fought hard with my teammates to help bring victory and triumph even in the most dire situations,” he continued. “You opened your heart to me, and I opened my heart to you.”

He added: “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.”

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Speculation about Brady’s future has been swirling since the Patriots lost to the Tennessee Titans in the first week of the playoffs, ending the team’s 2019-2020 season and their Super Bowl run.

In a January 2020 segment of WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show hosted by Greg Hill, the host shared that Brady’s suite at Gillette Stadium where the athlete’s wife Gisele Bündchen, 39, usually watches his games had “been cleaned out.”

“It would appear to be, by those who are in the know; that it has been cleaned out in a way that perhaps it has never been cleaned out before,” Hill explained.

And in August 2019, the couple put their Boston mansion on the market for $35 million.

Still, in January, Brady assured fans that he wouldn’t be retiring and alluded to his allegiance to the Patriots.

The superstar quarterback wrote a lengthy message on Instagram to express that he was “so grateful and humbled by the unconditional support” his fans have given him.

“I wish every season ended in a win, but that’s not the nature of sports (or life). Nobody plays to lose,” wrote Brady. “But the reward for working hard is just that, the work!! I have been blessed to find a career I love, teammates who go to battle with me, an organization that believes in me, and fans who have been behind us every step of the way.”

Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, November 2019
Adam Glanzman/Getty

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The longtime athlete went on in his post to praise his now-former team and their work, saying that they have “been rewarded with something that the scoreboard won’t show — the satisfaction of knowing we gave everything to each other in pursuit of a common goal. That is what TEAM is all about.”

“In both life and football, failure is inevitable. You don’t always win. You can, however, learn from that failure, pick yourself up with great enthusiasm, and place yourself in the arena again,” Brady continued. “And that’s right where you will find me. Because I know I still have more to prove.”

He further shut down retirement rumors in a Hulu advertisement that aired during Super Bowl LIV, assuring, “I’m not going anywhere.”

A source told PEOPLE of Brady at the time, “He will definitely play next year he is just not sure where yet. He is not retiring.”

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