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What I’m Hearing: How Tampa Bay will have to adapt to their new QB

USA TODAY

Welcome to TB, TB12.

After striking a deal to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, Tom Brady had his introductory press conference with his new team Tuesday via a conference call (a necessary format given the coronavirus pandemic) with NFL reporters.

And though Brady largely kept many of his answers close to the vest – hard to tell if he’ll stray from the “Patriot Way” of providing as few sound bites as possible – he did shed some light on why he’s chosen to relocate to Tampa after spending the first two decades of his incomparable career with the New England Patriots.

“It’s an exciting moment for me in my life,” said Brady of the free agent journey he opted to embark on by having out clauses woven into his final deal with the Pats.  

“It’s the first time it’s happened in 20 years. I’m kinda taking it day by day.”

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Last week, he agreed to a two-year, $50 million contract with the Bucs that could balloon to $59 million if certain incentives are met. General manager Jason Licht said pursuit of Brady was the Buccaneers’ “No. 1 priority” this offseason.

“There were a lot of things intriguing to me about the organization,” Brady said of Tampa Bay, talking up new teammates like receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin while not making any predictions about the team’s 2020 outlook on the heels of a 7-9 season.

The Buccaneers last made the playoffs in 2007 but haven’t won a postseason game since beating the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII following the 2002 campaign. Tampa Bay has six playoff victories in its 44-season history. Brady has six Super Bowl rings.

Brady said he didn’t make the determination he was leaving New England until March 16, when the free agent negotiation window opened. He visited Patriots owner Robert Kraft at his Brookline, Massachusetts, home that night to inform him of the decision. Coach Bill Belichick was also notified that evening.

“I’m not responsible for how other people with say certain things,” Brady said of his departure. “Mr. Kraft has been a great influence in my life for two decades. 

“When I’m done playing, I’ll look back and have a chance to re-evaluate my entire career. … But at the same time, I’m excited for the opportunity I have.”

Brady later added of his time in New England: “There’s nobody who’s been a bigger fan of the New England Patriots than me. … I have so many great relationships that will be maintained.”

Now he embarks on life – one that continues to be complicated by the COVID-19 outbreak – with the Bucs and coach Bruce Arians, he of the “no risk it, no biscuit philosophy.”

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As Brady leaves the “Patriot Way” behind, he’ll also have to find a way to meld with Arians.

“I’ve obviously paid attention to he and his offense for a long time,” said Brady of his brash coach. “Football to me is about throwing the football to the guy who’s open.

“You get the ball to the guys who can do something with it.”

Sounds like the biscuit will be far more carefully guarded than it was by Jameis Winston in 2019, when he led the NFL with 30 interceptions.

Brady now has to relocate his family to Florida. Asked if he’ll obtain No. 12 from Godwin once he arrives, Brady suggested it wasn’t a priority right now, his focus instead aimed at learning his new teammates – an objective he hopes can be eased by technology given the current difficulties of travel, not to mention convening a group of players on a football field.

“You just gotta try to manage it as best as possible,” Brady said of the environment borne of coronavirus. “Everyone’s trying to make it work and adjust and adapt to the new realities.

“One day at a time is a cliche, but it’s definitely not a cliche in the way I’m trying to live my life right now.” 

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Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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