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Tom Brady announces he won't return to Patriots

The Tom Brady-era in New England will officially end.

After 20 seasons with the Patriots, Brady announced on social media his "football journey will take place elsewhere," adding "I don't know what my football future holds."

Brady's goodbye ends the greatest run by a quarterback in NFL history.

Since taking over for Drew Bledsoe in 2001, TB12 has been the leader of the Pats' historic run of success. New England has never had a losing season with Brady at the helm, won six Super Bowls, made nine Super Bowl appearances and won a whopping 17 AFC East titles, including 11 straight.

In his 20 years in Foxborough, Brady won four Super Bowl MVPs, three NFL MVPs, was named an All-Pro five times, and earned two Offensive Player of the Year awards and 14 Pro Bowls.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft told NFL Network's Mike Giardi that he met with Brady on Monday night and described the meeting as "very sad" but said Brady's decision to leave was "amiable." Kraft told Giardi, "if Tom wanted to remain a Patriot, we would have had a deal."

Kraft added in a statement released by the team: "How do I possibly sum up the depth of my gratitude to Tom Brady for what he's given us these past 20 years, or the sadness I feel knowing it's ending? I love Tom like a son and I always will. He has brought so much happiness to me personally and to all of our fans. I had hoped this day would never come, but rather that Tom would end his remarkable career in a Patriots uniform after yet another Super Bowl championship. Unfortunately, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement to allow that dream to become a reality. While sad today, the overwhelming feeling I have is appreciation for his countless contributions to our team and community."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick -- the only NFL head coach Brady has known -- described Brady as the "greatest quarterback of all-time" in a statement.

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

With the pocket movement of a Jedi master, no one was better than Brady at deftly avoiding pressure with subtle moves and finding open targets. The signal-caller's precision at every level, uncanny competitiveness, and attention to detail made him into the greatest quarterback to ever play.

For the first time in his career, TB12 will mosey on to new pastures without Belichick.

Brady will leave behind $13.5 million in dead money on the Patriots salary cap following last year's contract rework. He also leaves many more than 13.5 million memories for Pats fans.

Brady said he doesn't know what his future holds beyond a journey outside of New England. The market for a 42-year-old GOAT wasn't robust but should compensate him nicely.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have been the hottest after Brady, made an offer believed to be $30 million or more per season, as did the Los Angeles Chargers. NFL Network's Jim Trotter reported Tuesday afternoon that Brady's camp has led the Chargers to believe he would stay on the East Coast for family reasons and that the Bolts made a serious run, but one that the team believes, unless there is a changing of the heart for Brady, has come to end.

Where Brady's path forward sits is currently unclear, but Tuesday marks the end of an unprecedented era in modern sports.

*EDITOR'S NOTE: *Brady has an agreement in principle to join the Bucs for roughly $30 million per year, Rapoport reported, per a source informed.

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