Bill Belichick wanted Tom Brady to remain with the New England Patriots, but the coach believes Brady simply chose the better situation when he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020.
"He looked at his options and made his decision. We weren't as good an option as Tampa, so I mean, you'd have to ask him about all of that," Belichick told The Greg Hill Show on Monday. "But that's really … it wasn't a question of not wanting him. That's for sure."
Brady signed with Tampa Bay after 20 years in New England, helping the Buccaneers win a Super Bowl in his first season. The Patriots struggled without him, finishing 7-9 for their first losing season since 2000.
New England was already coming off a disappointing season in 2019 with a wild-card loss to the Tennessee Titans. It ended a stretch of eight straight trips to at least the conference title game, plus three Super Bowl titles in five years.
There were also few offensive weapons remaining on the Patriots roster.
After moving to Tampa Bay, Brady was surrounded by elite receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, plus later additions of Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown.
The on-field success with the Buccaneers speaks for itself, although more might have been at play leading up to Brady's departure.
Brady's personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, recently questioned Belichick's treatment of the quarterback.
"I think his emotions or feelings never evolved with age," Guerrero told Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. "I think in time, with Tom, as Tom got into his late 30s or early 40s, I think Bill was still trying to treat him like that 20-year-old kid that he drafted."
ESPN's Seth Wickersham also detailed a "strained" relationship been Brady and Belichick that had been building for years before a "blow-up" in a meeting in March 2020.
Belichick still thinks highly of Brady ahead of next Sunday's matchup between the Patriots and Buccaneers.
"Tom and I had [an] I feel like a good relationship and a lot of production, obviously, while we were together," he said Monday. "And I enjoyed coaching Tom, and he was a great player for us."