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Bill Belichick Says He Never Wanted Tom Brady To Leave Patriots: 'We Weren't As Good An Option As Tampa'

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- Week 4 has officially arrived for the Patriots, Buccaneers, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. It's going to be busy.

It began in earnest on Monday morning, when Belichick gave his weekly interview to WEEI's The Greg Hill Show. After talking about Sunday's loss to the Saints, the conversation naturally veered toward Brady.

Notably, Belichick was told that many times over the years, the head coach said there's no quarterback he'd rather have than Tom Brady. Belichick was asked when that changed.

"It never changed," Belichick said.

Belichick was then asked a follow up question, asking if he was hoping for Brady to re-sign with the Patriots after the 2019 season.

"Yeah, well I think we've been through all the dynamics of that. There were a lot of things there that ... 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 said. "But that's really ... it wasn't a question of not wanting him. That's for sure."

The specifics of those dynamics are a bit murky, but according to well-sourced reporters, there wasn't really an offer made to Brady after the 2019 season. ESPN's Field Yates noted before Brady left that the Patriots' offer from August -- an offer which Brady obviously rejected -- was still the only offer on the table. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported after Brady left that "there was no offer from NE."

While the Patriots and Belichick may have wanted Brady to stay, the offer -- such as it was -- obviously didn't come close to what Brady was looking for in August. So he obviously wasn't going to accept it in March.

Regardless, Brady moved on and immediately won his seventh Super Bowl and fifth Super Bowl MVP. The Patriots went 7-9 with Cam Newton and now sit at 1-2 in 2021.

Belichick did touch on his relationship with Brady, and discussed what it will be like to face his former QB as an opponent on Sunday night.

"Tom and I had a, I feel like a good relationship and a lot of production, obviously, while we were together. And I enjoyed coaching Tom, and he was a great player for us," Belichick said. "Sunday night, we line up across from Tampa -- not just him, but the entire team. They're obviously a good team. So it's all about our team competing against Tampa's team. It's like it is every week. But there's guys on New Orleans -- you know, Chris Hogan -- there's guys every week that have been on our team, or guys on our team that have been on the other team. Certainly Tom is a special player, I'm not trying to put him in the same category as a guy who was here for a year or something like that. But at the same time, you're competing against the team you are playing against, and that's what you do."

Two hours after his radio interview, Belichick spoke to the New England media over Zoom. He was asked why the Patriots couldn't make themselves a better option for Brady, considering Robert Kraft and Brady said many times that they wanted the union to last through the end of the QB's career.

"I mean, I'm not going to go back and rehash all of that," Belichick said. "We've talked about all that. Our focus is on the game here. And look, I have so much respect and appreciation for Tom and everything he did here and for me and for our team. We're just getting ready to compete against Tampa this week and we're gonna keep our focus on that."

Belichick was pressed in a follow-up, with a reporter telling him that he had never addressed the dynamics of Brady leaving with the media.

"We made a statement when Tom left, and that covered it," Belichick said.

Finally, Belichick was asked if he's surprised with how well Brady has done since leaving New England.

"Yeah, Tom's a great player," Belichick said. "Nothing surprises me that he does."

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