New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is known for evading questions or not issuing comments about players who left the team. During his press conferences, Belichick usually replied that “he wants to talk about our players” when asked about players who were either traded or signed with another squad. So when he was asked about his long-time quarterback Tom Brady, reporters expected that Belichick will have the same reply like his previous statements. In a video conference, Belichick was asked by a reporter if he finds it strange not to have Brady around after being with the team for two decades.

The Patriots took Brady with the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, and became their starter since 2001 when then-starter Drew Bledsoe went down with an injury.

Belichick shocks everyone with reply

The veteran head coach shocked everyone when he delivered a lengthy answer, but without mentioning Brady’s name, per the transcript posted on “Well, we've had a lot of great, great players over the course of that time. You could have the same conversation about all of them,” said Belichick, mentioning Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Ty Law, Logan Mankins, and Rob Gronkowski. According to Belichick, teams in the National Football League (NFL) undergo changes every year, and so were the Patriots.

“We have them, so does everybody else and I think right now, everybody's focused on this year,” Belichick insisted. The 43-year-old Brady signed a two-year deal worth $50 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the offseason. Gronkowski, for his part, cut short his retirement to join Brady in Tampa Bay.

Belichick says Patriots not looking backwards

As of now, Belichick said the Patriots are looking ahead to the upcoming season, their first without Brady under center. “We're not looking backwards at anything,” said Belichick, adding that he’s looking at the opportunities and challenges that could come their way this season. “So that's really where our focus is,” said Belichick.

The Patriots have three quarterbacks in their depth chart as possible replacements for Brady. Early in the offseason, it looked like Jarrett Stidham was locked for the job as the Patriots’ starter, with veteran Brian Hoyer as backup. However, the quarterback scenario suddenly changed when the Patriots signed 2015 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Cam Newton to a one-year, incentive-laden contract to compete for the starting job. During Week 1 of training camp, Newton looks to pull away from the competition with Stidham committing too many turnovers. Stidham also suffered an injury that could hamper his performance in training camp, which would lag him behind in the competition.