Despite the loss of veteran quarterback Tom Brady to free agency, the New England Patriots will do just fine, according to former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. In an interview with the New York Post, Manning, who recently announced his retirement, declared that Brady’s departure won’t affect the Patriots’ dynasty, saying the team still has head coach Bill Belichick. “I think they still have a very good team, a great defense, great coaches,” said Manning. While Manning clarified that Brady was a very important part of the team’s success in his 20 years with the team, the retired quarterback said Belichick has put a system in place that will help the Patriots succeed.

However, Manning said it would be different without having Brady under center for the Patriots. As of now, the Patriots have three signal-callers in their roster – second-year player Jarrett Stidham, veteran Brian Hoyer, and third-string quarterback Cody Kessler. The Patriots brought back Hoyer via a one-year deal days after Brady made his move to the Buccaneers.

Manning can't imagine Brady leaving Patriots

Like many, Manning said he’s surprised by Brady’s decision to leave the Patriots and sign a two-year deal worth $50 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who last made the postseason in 2007. “I was surprised, how it all worked out,” said Manning, adding that he can’t imagine Brady leaving New England and the Patriots letting him go in free agency and to play someplace else.

Manning said he had no idea behind Brady’s reason to leave New England, saying he didn’t know if the 42-year-old signal-caller felt unappreciated or simply wants to try something different.

Manning says Buccaneers still far from being Super Bowl contenders

Manning said Brady is in a good place with the Buccaneers, especially playing alongside talented wide receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

Manning believes that throwing to Evans and Godwin was part of the reason why Brady picked the Buccaneers as his next stop. “It’ll be good for Tom to have those weapons,” said Manning. Despite Brady’s presence, Manning said it would take a while before the Buccaneers emerge as a Super Bowl contender. “You kind of start the process,” said Manning, adding that Brady won’t have enough time to connect with his wide receivers with the suspension of all team activities due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“That’s valuable time for a quarterback to kind of get on the same page and learn a new offense and figure that out,” said Manning. The 39-year-old Manning played 16 seasons with the Giants, winning two Super Bowl rings, all the expense of the Patriots and Brady.