Brady’s formal unveiling by his new team, after two decades and six Super Bowl titles with the Patriots, came via a conference call with reporters in which he was joined by Buccaneers Coach Bruce Arians and General Manager Jason Licht.
It was not quite the celebration that the Buccaneers, so starved for on-field success, might have liked after signing perhaps the most accomplished player in NFL history to a two-year contract worth a guaranteed $50 million. But it was the best that could be managed during this time of social distancing and public lockdowns.
“To say that this is an exciting day for the Buccaneers organization and me personally would be a rather large understatement,” Licht said.
Said Arians: “I wish we could start practice tomorrow. But we can’t, obviously.”
It seems unlikely, in fact, that the Buccaneers or any other team will practice until training camp. The league has postponed teams’ offseason programs for players indefinitely, and many in the NFL expect those programs to be canceled entirely. So Brady probably will have to learn Arians’s offense and adjust to his new teammates without the benefit of offseason minicamps and organized team activities.
“I’m going to do the best I can to be in conversation with guys and try to get together and find ways to meet up in different places and get to work in that sense,” Brady said. “Technology is an amazing thing, and we’re going to use the technology as best we can to try to get to know each other. For me, they’re ahead of me on what they need to know in terms of the offense. So I’ve really got to get up to speed with the things that they already know and their terminology."
Brady, 42, called Arians’s system “a great offense for the quarterback.” Expectations will be high as Brady, with a group of talented players around him on offense, attempts to get the Buccaneers into the postseason for the first time since the 2007 season.
“Obviously where I’ve been, I’ve learned a great deal,” Brady said. “As I move forward, I said the other day, no one cares what you’ve done in the past. They don’t care what you did last year or five years ago or 10 years ago. I think hopefully the knowledge I’ve had in my experience playing quarterback will allow me to transition quickly. There’s a lot of things I’ve got to get up to speed on, obviously learning different terminology. That’s a unique challenge that I haven’t faced. But it’s one that I’m looking forward to, also.”
Brady also faced questions for the first time about leaving the Patriots via free agency. He said he made his decision to leave on the very night last week that he contacted the team’s owner, Robert Kraft, to set up a meeting at Kraft’s home. Brady said he also spoke to Coach Bill Belichick during that meeting with Kraft.
“There’s nobody who’s been a bigger fan of the Patriots than me,” Brady said. “I have nothing but total respect and love, and I’m so grateful to Mr. Kraft and the organization and Coach Belichick and all the coaches and obviously all my teammates. … I have so many great relationships that will be maintained. That’s, I think, the greatest gift that football has brought me, the relationships I’ve had with so many people I’ve worked with. So it’ll be certainly different. But at the same time, that’s the way life can be at times. What won’t be different is my approach to the game, my approach to what my roles and responsibilities are.”
Brady’s deal with the Buccaneers, worth up to $59 million when possible incentives are factored in, was said to be essentially in place late last Tuesday, about 24 hours after his meeting with Kraft. Brady declined to comment on Kraft’s public statements last week that Brady was intent upon moving on from the Patriots, saying he is “not responsible for how other people will say certain things.” Brady also refused to directly answer a question about what it would have taken for him to remain in New England.
“I don’t want to talk about the past because that’s not relevant to what’s important in my future and what’s going on this offseason for me,” he said. “ … I think for all of us, things and life can change, and you’ve got to be able to adapt and evolve. … Any time you leave somewhere, it’s very emotional."
Brady said he will focus first on getting settled into his new life, so that he can then concentrate on preparing for his next steps in football.
“It’s not like I’m 25 where you just pack a suitcase and go,” Brady said. “I have three kids, and it’s just changing a little bit of our life. But that’s life, and that’s what people do. And that’s what you do when you have opportunities in other jobs and other places.”