Bill Belichick on Tom Brady: Patriots ‘moving forward and focused on the draft’

Bill Belichick still isn't in any mood to talk about Tom Brady.

Monday, the New England Patriots coach held a pre-draft conference call, the first time he'd spoken to reporters since Jan. 5 – the day after the perennial AFC East champs' wild-card loss to the Tennessee Titans. 

That playoff ouster also will represent the final time Brady, now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, suited up for the team that he led to nine Super Bowls and six Lombardi Trophies after New England drafted him in 2000.

"It would be of course impossible to sum up everything Tom did in 20 years into a comment, then or now," Belichick said Monday, according to The Boston Globe.

"Right now we're moving forward and focused on the draft here on this call."

For the first time since 2000, Tom Brady (12) and Patriots coach Bill Belichick won't be on the same sideline. (Photo: Greg M. Cooper, USA TODAY Sports)

Back in January, Belichick – Mr. "We're on to Cincinnati," his mantra intended to keep the Patriots always looking ahead – wanted to talk about the loss to the Titans, not Brady's future. Now it's all about the draft, not reflecting on Brady's contributions over two stellar decades in Foxborough. 

In between, on March 17, Belichick did say this of Brady, after he announced his intention to leave the Patriots: "Tom and I will always have a great relationship built on love, admiration, respect and appreciation. Tom’s success as a player and his character as a person are exceptional. Nothing about the end of Tom’s Patriots career changes how unfathomably spectacular it was. With his relentless competitiveness and longevity, he earned everyone’s adoration and will be celebrated forever. It has been a privilege to coach Tom Brady for 20 years.

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"Sometimes in life, it takes some time to pass before truly appreciating something or someone but that has not been the case with Tom. He is a special person and the greatest quarterback of all-time."

Yet now, Belichick is unsurprisingly planning for life after Brady, second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham currently the only quarterback listed on the team's roster. Veteran Brian Hoyer has agreed to return to the team in 2020, however his signing has yet to be officially announced.

Stidham threw only four passes in three brief appearances as a rookie but seems likely to get first crack at taking over for TB12.

The Patriots hold the 23rd pick of next week's NFL draft but don't pick again until No. 87, deep in the third round. Among this year's top passing prospects, Oregon's Justin Herbert and Utah State's Jordan Love are the most realistic targets, but either might require a move up in Round 1.

Predictably, Belichick spoke in generalities about this year's incoming crop of passers, which also includes includes LSU's Joe Burrow, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa, Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts, Georgia's Jake Fromm and Washington's Jacob Eason.

Burrow is expected to be the first pick off the board to the Bengals, while Tagovailoa is widely projected as a top-five selection.


Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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