Joe Montana: Patriots ‘made a mistake’ in letting Tom Brady leave New England

Joe Montana isn’t too pleased Tom Brady is not in a New England Patriots uniform anymore. Montana, who had a stunning departure of his own from the San Francisco 49ers in 1993, doesn’t approve of Brady joining forces with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brady playing in Tampa isn’t the issue. It’s New England’s decision to let him walk. 

“I don’t know what’s going on inside there, but somebody made a mistake,” Montana told Jarrett Bell of USA Today. “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. 

“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 was ousted out of San Francisco as an elbow injury allowed Steve Young to take over the reins as the team’s franchise quarterback, with Young winning the 1992 NFL MVP award. San Francisco made Montana the “designated starter” in an attempt to keep him, days after granting him permission to seek a trade. 

The 49ers committed to Young as the starter in February of 1993, then rumors spiraled they were actually dangling Young in trade talks in order to keep Montana. Then the franchise decided to allow Montana to move on before neglecting that offer, which is how the “designated starter” tag came into effect. Young also told the 49ers they either start him or trade him.  

In the end, Montana went to Kansas City in what was an ugly divorce (the 49ers and Montana eventually made up). Brady’s situation was a little different, but Montana believes he knows what the former Patriots quarterback wanted from New England. 

“He wants control. I mean, he wants a lot of control,” Montana said. “I don’t know what Tampa Bay gave him, but at some point in time, you’re just a player. You can try to get what you can and do what you want, but in the end, you’re still not in the hierarchy when it comes to hiring people, firing people and all that.

The Buccaneers also have more talented skill players for Brady to succeed, starting with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at wide receiver. They also have O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate at tight end, along with Ronald Jones at running back. 

As Montana can attest, more talent on the offense doesn’t equate to success. 

“What he wants is a bit more weapons,” Montana said. “But more weapons doesn’t always mean you’re going to continue to win. There were times we had a lot of weapons later in my career, but we had up and down years; Steve (Young) had up and down years with the same group. That’s not always the case that happens with it.

“Those guys have put up some big numbers, but in a different style of offense. It’ll be interesting to see what they mix in with what they did in New England with what they’re going to do and continue to use and had success with in Tampa.”

Montana did defend Brady regarding his new surroundings, implying his time in Tampa Bay will rejuvenate his career. He also warned a new team doesn’t guarantee a championship, as the farthest Montana took Kansas City was the AFC Championship Game in his two seasons there. 

Still, Montana was hoping Brady would finish his career with the Patriots. That just wasn’t meant to be. 

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