New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (R) kisses quarterback Tom Brady (12) on the field after their win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game on January 21, 2018 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Tom Brady downplayed the notion that any lingering friction with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick led to his decision to stay away from much of the team's offseason program.
"Just some personal reasons for me," Brady told reporters at a media briefing Thursday on the third and final day of the team's mandatory minicamp. "But I'm here now and focused on what I need to do, as I always say I am. Like I said, I'm looking forward to this year."
Asked if those personal reasons had anything to do with a reported flap with Belichick dating to last season, Brady responded: "Not at all. No. No."
Brady participated in organized team activities from 2011-17 but cited family reasons as staying away this year. Despite a report of a power struggle between Brady, Belichick and owner Robert Kraft in 2017, Brady echoed Belichick's sentiments earlier this week that the quarterback-coach relationship is fine.
"It's great and we've always had a great relationship," said Brady. "I've been here for a long time and I love this team, I love this organization and I love playing quarterback for him. I loved it last year. I'm having a lot of fun now so that's obviously what's most important to me."
A five-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots, Brady did not fully commit to playing the 2018 seson until April. Multiple media outlets have reported that both Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski are seeking new contracts ahead of the 2018 regular season.
Brady, a three-time NFL Most Valuable Player and four-time Super Bowl MVP, has two years remaining on his current deal and is scheduled to earn a base salary of $14 million in 2018. He would not say if that was a reason for skipping OTAs.
"I've never talked about my contract," said Brady, who said retirement was never a thought during the offseason. "I've never brought up money, I think for a lot of reasons that I've said over the years. Those things are very personal."
Brady, who will turn 41 in August, threw for a league-best 4,577 yards along with 32 touchdowns and only eight interceptions last season in guiding New England to its eighth Super Bowl appearance in 17 years.
New England lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 41-33 in its bid for a sixth world championship.
Brady said he hoped his absence during the voluntary portion of the offseason program would not have a detrimental effect on the team's preparation for the 2018 season.
"I mean every year has different challenges, you know?" said Brady. "There's some years where, I mean, obviously this team has very high expectations. We're trying to win every game. That's what our goals are. I think those things we have a lot of time to work on, literally. Figuratively, there's a long way to go.
"We've got a lot of work to do and it's going to be up to us individually to prepare as best we can and then collectively when we come together we do the same."