May 12, 2021

Brady leaving New England, Brees staying put in New Orleans

The unimaginable has happened to Patriots fans: Tom Brady is moving on.

The predictable has occurred for Saints fans: Drew Brees is staying put.

No matter what else happens in NFL free agency on Tuesday, decisions by those two iconic quarterbacks deserve headlines. And those decisions were as divergent as the regions they have played in.

Brady will be 43 when the next NFL season begins. He also brings with him six Super Bowl rings, four Super Bowl MVP trophies and three regular-season MVP awards. Simply put, he’s the most successful quarterback in pro football history.

“I don’t know what my football future holds, but it is time for me to open a new stage for my life and my career,” he wrote.

“Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM experiences.”

Those experiences — nine Super Bowl trips, six wins — ended with a home loss to Tennessee in the wild-card round in January.

As a memento for Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who referred to Brady as being like a son, the team will take a $13.5 million salary cap hit because of the signing bonus Brady got for his one-year deal for the 2019 season.

No such issues in the Big Easy. Brees made things, well, easy for the Saints, making it clear he wasn’t leaving New Orleans or Sean Payton’s offense despite having his contract run out.

Brees, 41, agreed to a two-year, $50 million contract, a person familiar with the situation said.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Tuesday because the deal has not been announced.

Another veteran QB found his landing spot when Philip Rivers agreed to join the Colts.

Rivers spent the past 16 seasons with the Chargers, first in San Diego and then in Los Angeles.

Rivers agreed to a one-year contract with Indianapolis. The Colts get a 38-year-old quarterback coming off one of his worst seasons with 23, touchdown passes and 20 interceptions.

But Rivers ranks sixth in league history in completions, yards passing and TD passes and seventh in attempts and is 123-101 as an NFL starter. He hasn’t missed a start since 2005.

Incumbent Jacoby Brissett now figures to be job hunting.

The Colts acquired him in a 2017 trade with the Patriots — who just happen to have an opening behind center.

And one more star passer, Cam Newton, will be departing Carolina. Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said Tuesday on Twitter that “every year difficult decisions are made and they are never easy.”

Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP, said on social media he didn’t ask for the trade, telling the Panthers: “You forced me into this.”

Other quarterbacks’ fates were being decided Tuesday, the second day on which players’ representatives could negotiate with teams.

No deals can become official until the league business year begins Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Also Tuesday:

— Former Iowa Hawkeye offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga agreed to a contract with the Chargers.

He spent the past 10 seasons with Green Bay and will turn 31 on Saturday.

— Linebacker Thomas Davis said he’s reuniting with former coach Ron Rivera and signing with the Redskins. Davis, 36, played under Rivera with Carolina for eight seasons and had the best years of his career.

— Jason Witten is headed to Las Vegas, where Jon Gruden is the coach. Coincidentally, Witten replaced Gruden as the analyst on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” in 2018, then went back to play again with the Cowboys.

—The Bears have released outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, chosen ninth in the 2016 draft.

— The Rams declined their contract option on cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, who has been the team’s nickel cornerback and their top defender on slot receivers since 2017.

Baltimore already added veteran edge rusher Calais Campbell, obtained Sunday in a pending trade with Jacksonville.

— Chicago agreed to a five-year, $70 million deal with defensive end Robert Quinn, who gets $30 million guaranteed.

The Bears added a solid pass rusher to outside linebacker Khalil Mack. Quinn had 11 1/2 sacks last year following a trade to Dallas from Miami.

—Miami and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah agreed to a $15 million, two-year contract. Ogbah had 5½ sacks last year for the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

— The Giants reached contract agreements with Packers middle linebacker Blake Martinez and Panthers cornerback James Bradberry.

The Giants also agreed on a deal with veteran blocking tight end tight end Levine Toilolo.

— Buffalo signed defensive end Mario Addison and former Iowa State Cyclone A.J. Klein.

—Tampa Bay will be re-signing linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul to a two-year, $27 million contract.