Joe Montana Criticizes New England Patriots for Letting Tom Brady Leave: 'I Don't Understand How They Let Him Get Away'

Joe Montana believes the New England Patriots made a mistake by letting Tom Brady leave in free agency.

The six-time Super Bowl champion signed a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, calling time on a two-decade spell in New England that shaped the modern NFL. Montana knows a thing or two about ending a career with a different team than the one where he developed into a bonafide NFL legend, as the San Francisco 49ers traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993.

Montana won each of the four Super Bowls he guided the 49ers to, but his final two seasons in California were beset by injuries and he played just one game due to an elbow injury he sustained during the 1991 training camp. In his absence, Steve Young seized the starting role and when then-49ers head coach George Seifert named Young the starting quarterback for the 1993 season, Montana asked to be traded.

"I think when you look at the whole situation, you try to figure out how you want to get away from things that are there," he told USA Today's Jarrett Bell. "I had a different story, where they had made a decision. He, obviously, they never would have gotten rid of. I still don't understand how New England let him get away. I don't understand that."

Montana isn't the only Hall of Famer to have been left perplexed by the Patriots' decision to part ways with their quarterback of the last two decades. Speaking to Newsweek, former New Orleans Saints great Morten Andersen described the decision as a "head-scratcher" for both parties.

"I think he has a place in Florida, but it really surprised me. I thought it was going to be the Chargers in their new stadium or the Raiders—although I knew Tom didn't deep down want to go to Vegas, too flashy for him," the seven-time Pro Bowl selection, now an NFL ambassador for BonusCodeBets.co.uk, explained.

"While he's not the player he once was, this whole thing shows that the sport is a business."

"That you can be the greatest QB of all time, without question, and you still don't get to finish the team you won all those Super Bowls with—it is mind-boggling to me."

After being traded to the Chiefs, Montana led Kansas City to back-to-back playoff appearances— including an AFC Championship Game—in his final two seasons. He believes Brady could have a similar impact on the Bucs.

Brady is six years older than Montana was when he left San Francisco, but the 63-year-old expects the move to Florida to rejuvenate the four-time Super Bowl MVP.

Tom Brady, Joe Montana
Tom Brady of the New England Patriots talks with Hall of Famer Joe Montana prior to Super Bowl LIV between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium on February 2 in Miami, Florida. Brady left the Patriots after two decades to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. Maddie Meyer/Getty

"He doesn't need a fresh start, but it gives you a great feeling inside, looking forward to trying to help the team move forward," he added.

"And everybody believes in him, looking forward to watching him play."

Andersen, too, believes Brady could benefit from swapping New England's harsh winters for Florida's sunshine.

"I think this move can rejuvenate Brady—not that he needs it, he is in good shape. But it's just that different environment," he explained.

"And remember Tampa have some really good receivers which Brady can unlock."

Following Brady's arrival, the bookmakers installed the Bucs as 15/1 fifth-favorites to win Super Bowl LV. Tampa Bay started last week as 50/1 outsider to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2021, before the odds fell off a cliff as the franchise became the front runner in the race to sign the 42-year-old.

While Montana moved to a team that had reached the playoffs in each of the three previous seasons, the Bucs' last playoff appearance dates back to 2007.

To put the drought into context, Brady has reached six Super Bowls, winning three and making the playoffs in all but one season since Tampa Bay last played football in the postseason.

While a first playoff appearance in 13 years may be on the cards, Andersen is skeptical over whether the Bucs can become the first franchise to win a Super Bowl in its own stadium.

"I'm not sure Brady makes the Bucs contenders, given the Saints are in their division—and they are better than Tampa even with Brady there," he added.

"A lot of people think Brady is washed up and doesn't have the mobility any more—as well as having to learn with a totally new team. But for me, he can only be a positive influence."

Joe Montana Criticizes New England Patriots for Letting Tom Brady Leave: 'I Don't Understand How They Let Him Get Away' | Sports