Tom Brady is out. After 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, Brady announced on Tuesday that he's leaving the team, and is now expected to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. WGBH Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu spoke with NBC Sports Boston host Michael Holley about what happened and what the quarterback's departure means for future Patriots seasons. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.
Joe Mathieu: At least we don't have to speculate any longer.
Michael Holley: That's right. When you said, "He used to play football here," I went there for a second. It's just tough to grasp. It is going to be tough. I just think going forward, it's hard to imagine Tom Brady in another uniform.
Mathieu: Well, that's for sure. It's going to be weird when we actually see that happen, and I guess it'll be a Tampa uniform. The amateur take is that he wants to go work for a young, upbeat coach [and] be part of a more fun-loving culture instead of this sort of military-like culture in the New England Patriots. You've been behind the scenes. Is that fair?
Holley: I don't think that's the case. I mean, he grew up in that culture. Yes, it's militaristic, it's very structured [and there's] not a lot a lot of flexibility. When Bill Belichick determines that he wants to do something, that's the way it's going to be. Tom Brady was raised in that system for 20 years. The real story is that Bill Belichick could never get past Tom Brady's birth certificate. He's going to be 43 in August and he's been asking for a contract extension since he was 39 or 40. Belichick has gone year to year with him, and that's just the problem. Eventually, it got to the point where Brady said, "Okay, I don't want to ask anymore. I'm getting the hint. You don't want to go beyond one year. So I'm going to go somewhere else where they will give me more of a commitment that I'm looking for."
Mathieu: Would that suggest that Bill Belichick had someone better in mind? How do you do better than this?
Holley: No, I don't think he has anyone better. I know he didn't have anyone better in mind because that person is not out there. Even if it's some kid in the draft, that kid is not going to be ready to replace Tom Brady in year one. And some of the candidates on the market, whether they're free agents or quarterbacks that Belichick will have to trade for, they're not up to Brady's standard.
Mathieu: Did money have a lot to do with it, or simply a team that wanted to commit for a long-term now?
Holley: No, I don't think it was money. All he was looking for... you know, Drew Brees with the Saints recently signed a two-year, $50 million contract. A lot of money. But it was still two years, and he's a quarterback who's 40 years old, too. So that's his second two-year, $50 million contract from the Saints. So they're mindful that quarterbacks usually aren't successful after 36 [or] 37. So they're being cautious, but they're giving him an extension, just to show respect.
And so Brady was looking for something like that. And when he couldn't get it from the Patriots, he just decided, "Look, I don't want you to put a franchise tag on me. I want to be a free agent when the league year begins and I'm going to go somewhere else." I thought it was pretty clear when the year ended on Jan. 4, they lost to Tennessee, and they didn't really have any conversations for the next month and a half. The Patriots could have talked with him at any time, they could have signed him at any time before free agency hit and they didn't. So it was clear to me that he was he was going to go somewhere else.
Mathieu: So here we are, Michael. What's the Patriot team going to look like next year? Are we going to have a team?
Holley: Well, Joe, I'll say this to you: I hope you enjoyed the previous 20 years. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you never took this for granted. Nine Superbowl appearances, nine straight conference championship appearances at one point. Lots of good things, because I don't think there will be lots of good things in the 2020 season for the Patriots. Bill Belichick is an excellent coach, but this is a quarterback's league and you need a really good one to compete for a championship. So I think the Patriots [will] be interesting to watch. I do not think they'll be going to a Super Bowl this year or next year. It's going to take a bit of a reset for them to get back to the level that the fans have become accustomed to.
Mathieu: We're so spoiled. But I have to ask you, Michael, while you're with us, about the Boston Celtics. We're waiting for test results from the team; they were tested for coronavirus over the weekend. As we now learned, they played two teams — the Jazz and the Nets — that had players testing positive for coronavirus. Do you know what we're going to hear or when we're going to hear from them?
Holley: Just based on the odds, I think we're going to hear that a couple of Celtics do have the coronavirus. And I think it goes back to Adam Silver's wise decision, the commissioner of the NBA, as soon as he had one player test positive — Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz — he decided to suspend the season. And now you're hearing the season may not resume until mid-June at the earliest, and it may be later than that. The Celtics self-quarantined when that suspension happened, and I think now we're going to start getting some results.
Mathieu: Is it possible if that happens, the Celtics do not play again this year?
Holley: I think it depends on how many players have it and who those players are. Let's say if it's one player, I think that player will be isolated and maybe the rest of the teams comes back. But it's going to be awhile anyway. We're not going to see the Celtics next month or the month after. Right now the commissioner is saying mid-June. I think it may be late June or July. We could be having playoff games in August for the NBA.