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Bill Belichick says he never wanted Tom Brady to leave Patriots: 'We weren’t as good of an option as Tampa'

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Bill Belichick says he never wanted Tom Brady to leave.

On Monday morning, the Patriots coach made his weekly appearance on WEEI and was asked about the quarterback, whom his team will face this weekend. Belichick often said there was no quarterback he’d rather have than Brady.

However, last week, Brady’s father stated that Belichick didn’t want his son anymore and they feel vindicated by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Super Bowl championship. On WEEI, Belichick was asked if his feelings toward Brady changed at the end of the 2019 season.

“It never changed," Belichick said.

The Patriots coach explained that the organization wanted Brady, who spent the first 20 years of his career in New England, back during free agency in 2020. However, when it came down to joining the Pats or Buccaneers, Brady prioritized Tampa Bay and he signed a two-year $50 million deal that offseason.

“Well, I think we’ve been through all of the dynamics of that," Belichick said. "There were a lot of things there — he looked at his options and made his decision. We weren’t as good of an option as Tampa. You’d have to ask him about all that, but it wasn’t a question of not wanting him that’s for sure."

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with head coach Bill Belichick (R) after clinching the AFC East title with a 41-13 win over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with head coach Bill Belichick (R) after clinching the AFC East title with a 41-13 win over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.

At the time, the Patriots didn’t have as much cap space as as the Buccaneers, who signed Brady to a two-year, $50 million contract. There was also the matter of offensive weapons. During the 2019 season, Brady became increasingly frustrated with the Patriots over their lack of depth at receiver and tight end.

That season, the Pats brought in Antonio Brown, but the receiver lasted one game before he was released. They had Josh Gordon but ended up releasing the troubled veteran. The team signed Demaryius Thomas but traded him to the New York Jets after signing Brown. The Pats also used a first-round pick on N’Keal Harry and then traded a second-round pick to Atlanta for Mohammad Sanu.

That year also saw Rob Gronkowski briefly retire. The Patriots' leading tight end was Ben Watson, 39, who caught 17 passes for 173 yards. Brady finished that season with 4,057 passing yards and 24 touchdowns. That was the fewest passing yards he had in nine seasons and the fewest touchdown throws in 13 seasons.

In Tampa Bay, with Gronkowski and Brown as well as marquee receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Brady hasn't had any issues with offensive weapons. His 40 touchdown passes last year were the most he's had since 2007 when Randy Moss was in New England. He leads the NFL this season with 10 touchdown passes in three games.

Brady will meet Belichick and the Patriots for the first time in his career this Sunday night.

“Tom and I had I feel like a good relationship and a lot of production, obviously while we were together," Belichick said. "I enjoyed coaching Tom. He was a great player for us. Sunday night we line up across from Tampa and not just him, but the entire team. They are obviously a very good team, so that’s all about our team competing against Tampa’s team.”

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Bill Belichick: I never wanted Tom Brady to leave New England Patriots