The New England Patriots lost two linebackers to free agency.

Not two hours after news broke Monday night that Kyle Van Noy will sign a free-agent deal with the Dolphins, fellow linebacker Jamie Collins agreed to leave New England to join the Detroit Lions.

Collins will receive a 3-year, $30 million contract built on $18 million in guarantees, a source confirmed to the Boston Herald. The 30-year-old enjoyed a career renaissance with the Patriots after returning to the franchise on a one-year deal last May.

By the end of the 2019 season, Collins had led the NFL’s No. 1 defense with 81 tackles, seven sacks and three forced fumbles. He was the Pats’ best defender through September, helping them roll to an 8-0 start. Collins also finished as their most impactful blitzer on a per-snap basis, according to Pro Football Focus.

In Detroit, he will reunite with former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who is on the hot seat entering his third year as the Lions’ coach. Collins enjoyed the best season of his career, an All-Pro second-team campaign, under Patricia in 2015.

Without Collins and Van Noy, the Patriots’ linebacker depth is down to Dont’a Hightower and Ja’Whaun Bentley. Elandon Roberts remains a free agent. Second-year edge defender Chase Winovich is the leading candidate to replace Van Noy on the edge.


COACH BILL BELICHICK was surprised Tom Brady’s leaviing.

According to the Boston Herald, Brady called Belichick on Monday night to let him know he planned to leave in free agency. The paper reports the coach was “a little bit shocked,” and Brady felt like “a huge weight” had been lifted after breaking the news to Belichick and Robert Kraft.

A day later, Brady took to Instagram to announce that his “football journey will take place elsewhere,” and the quarterback is expected to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday.

By late Tuesday morning, Belichick released a heartfelt statement lauding Brady for all he accomplished in New England. “Examples of his greatness are limitless,” Belichick wrote, calling Brady a “tone setter,” “bar raiser,” and the “greatest quarterback of all time.”

WHEN BRADY reached out to owner Robert Kraft and asked to see him Monday night, the Patriots’ owner was hoping, thinking, that his quarterback wanted to meet, to see if a deal could get done.

Instead, it was an emotional, tear-filled goodbye.


Brady went to Kraft’s Brookline home, and told him it was best for him to cut the cord with the Patriots, and move on.

“We had a very respectful, loving, long discussion,” Kraft said. “He initiated it. His emotions were sad. My emotions were sad. I love him like a son. I think he feels very close. He just said he thinks it’s time, it was probably best for him to move on.

“I said it made me very sad. It was going to make our fans very sad. I mean, I thought he was coming over here to try to put something together, but it was really about him moving on, and what was right for him at this point in his life.”

Did you try to talk him out of it?

“Of course I did,” Kraft initially replied . . . but then added, “I didn’t try to talk him out of it. I just said, ‘Are you sure?’ ”

He was. The six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback didn’t waver, according to Kraft. And the two went on, sharing memories of their two decades together.

“To keep him here, if he really didn’t want to be here . . . he’s earned the right. He’s brought us so much . . . we talked about the wonderful two decades we spent together. What he did for me when Myra died,” Kraft said, referring to his late wife. “But more importantly, what he did for our fan base and to help make the Patriots the organization we are now. Think about it, in the 100-year history of the NFL, there’s never been a quarterback this good.

“We were able to have him, and I’m just sad he’s not finishing with us. He’s earned the right to do what he thinks is best for him.”

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