- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quarterback Tom Brady addressed his future with the New England Patriots as he enters the final year of his contract, while also touching on his relationship with the franchise, which some have speculated is strained.
"I've always been privileged to play for Coach Belichick, who I've always said is the best coach in the history of the league. And Mr. Kraft, I have a great relationship with him," Brady said Friday morning after the team's third practice of training camp.
"I'm not into playing games. I just want to come out here and do the best I can do. You know, whether you make $1 playing, or you make millions of dollars like we do make, I just really enjoy playing quarterback for this team. I have since the day I stepped on the field. It's something I relish, and every year is an opportunity.
"You don't get these opportunities back. I want to play for another 10 years hopefully. Each year is an opportunity for us to accomplish something pretty special. I don't want anything to ever get in the way of that."
Brady is scheduled to earn $6.5 million this season, which is below market-value for a player of his caliber. Some have speculated that Brady's relationship with the team has been strained because the sides have not struck a contract extension.
Brady was asked to describe his mood as it relates to his contract, but he deflected the question.
"My personal feelings are my personal feelings, and certainly I don't want to express them with anybody other than very few people," he said. "It doesn't do any good. It really doesn't. It doesn't help this team. It doesn't help the organization. Really, it gets in the way to me."
Brady said it's "everybody's goal" to retire with the franchise they started with, citing former Patriots Troy Brown and Tedy Bruschi as examples. But he also said his focus is more short-term in nature.
Asked to update the status of contract talks between his representatives and the Patriots, Brady declined.
"Coach doesn't like us talking about it a whole lot, so I kind of stick to that. As I said before, nobody here can solve it other than myself and the team," he said, adding that other players are in the same situation as he finds himself.
"I'm under contract and it's my responsibility to come out and play as well as I can. I've always felt that's what I love to do anyway. I love to come out here and compete. I have a job. I think that's important to realize, too. It's an interesting time in the world. I'm glad I get to come out here and do something I love."
Brady didn't think that his contract situation would become a distraction.
"I'd like to think I have a little more mental toughness than anything becoming a distraction that would affect the way I play," he answered. "Nothing outside, when I walk off this field, ends up becoming a distraction for me in my life. We all deal with stuff. All of us deal with different stuff in our life. Some is more challenging than others. But as a leader on this team -- I've been a captain on this team for a long time -- you put the things that are off the field behind you and come out here with a good attitude and good leadership."
Brady was asked about how he's seen other players come and go during his 11 years with the team, and what it feels like to be in a situation where this could be his last year with the team.
"You see a lot of guys come and go. The reality is that's this business," he responded. "We don't play forever, and we certainly don't sign contracts for 30 years. This sport is based on a revolving system of players that are in and out, in free agency, something that the union fought hard for over the years. Players have the option to move teams. Teams have the opportunity to cut players. It's just what happens.
"Early on, it used to really bother me. It still bothers you to a degree, but you understand that's really what this profession is all about.
"It's a great game. Obviously we're doing something right. It's a very popular game. I love playing, and also realizing what happened a few years ago with getting injured. To be on the field this year is what's important for me.
"You can say 'I want to do this, this and this,' but at the same time, you're not guaranteed anything. You're not guaranteed that I'll start the season. You're not guaranteed that I'll make it through the next day of practice. When you look out and see the kind of physical nature this sport is, nobody is guaranteed anything. So enjoy what we have, enjoy the practices, the games. That's a message I always try to convey. We're certainly not guaranteed anything."
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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