New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he loves Tom Brady "like a son" and expressed sadness that the free agent quarterback announced that he'd continue his career with another team. 

Brady, six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback and three-time NFL MVP, announced Tuesday he will not return to the Patriots after a 20-year run with the franchise.

“Tommy initiated contact last night and came over,” Kraft said in a statement to ESPN. “We had a positive, respectful discussion. It’s not the way I want it to end, but I want him to do what is in his best personal interest. After 20 years with us, he has earned that right. I love him like a son.”

The 42-year-old Brady became a free agent for this first time in his career this offseason and did not reveal which team he would sign with or anything else about his plans beyond his intention to move on from the organization.

"To all my teammates, coaches, executives and staff, Coach (Bill) Belichick, RKK (owner Robert Kraft) and the Kraft family and the entire organization," Brady wrote on a post to his social media channels. "I want to say thank you for the past twenty years of my life and the daily commitment to winning and creating a winning culture built on great values. ... Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM accomplishments."

The Patriots released statements from Kraft and coach Bill Belichick praising Brady.

"I am extremely grateful for what he did for our team and for me personally," Belichick said of Brady in the statement. "He is a special person and the greatest quarterback of all time."

Contributing: Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz