Tom Brady receives heartfelt Bill Belichick statement amid Patriots departure

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick left Tom Brady a heartfelt message Tuesday as the six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback announced he was departing from the team as free agency is set to begin.

Belichick remembered Brady as a “tone-setter and a bar raiser” during their 20 seasons together. Belichick released a statement through the Patriots’ organization.

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“Tom was not just a player who bought into our program. He was one of its original creators. Tom lived and perpetuated our culture,” Belichick said in a statement. “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.”

Belichick said coaching Brady was a privilege and remembered the good times they had together.

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“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.”

Belichick added: “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.

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"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.”

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It’s unclear what the next steps for both parties are. The Patriots will have to find a way to replace the quarterback who helped the team own the last two decades while Brady will have to slide into a different circumstance.