FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said his absence from voluntary workouts had nothing to do with coach Bill Belichick, calling the reasons "personal" as he expressed excitement for the 2018 season.
"We've always had a great relationship," Brady said of Belichick after the team's final practice of mandatory minicamp on Thursday. "I've been here for a long time and I love this team, I love this organization, and I love playing quarterback for him. I loved it last year. I'm having a lot of fun now, so that's obviously what's most important to me."
Brady, who enters his 19th season under Belichick, was asked what has changed from past years when he would attend voluntary workouts and had commented on them as a time to lay a foundation with teammates.
"It's obviously important for everybody. Our coaches do a great job getting us ready. Just some personal reasons for me," he responded. "But I'm here now and focused on what I need to do, as I always say I am. I'm looking forward to this year."
Brady, who has signed the majority of his contract extensions with two years remaining on his deal, is under contract through the 2019 season. His most recent extension, in 2016, paid him an average of $20.5 million per season. The highest-paid quarterback in the NFL is currently Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, who signed a deal worth $30 million per season.
Asked if his contract status was a reason he's stayed away from the team, Brady deflected.
"I've never talked about my contract. I've never brought up money for a lot of reasons that I've said over the years," he said. "Those things are very personal."
Brady, who turns 41 in August and is the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player, said he never considered retirement over the past few months. He said the team's three-day minicamp was productive, and now the focus is to build momentum into training camp in late July.
The Patriots are scheduled for a few more voluntary practices next week, but Brady didn't commit to attending them, saying, "We're not even through today yet."
He added that he hopes his absence in previous voluntary practices doesn't hurt the team.
"Every year has different challenges, you know? There's some years where, I mean, obviously this team has very high expectations. We're trying to win every game. That's what our goals are," he said.
"I think those things we have a lot of time to work on literally. Figuratively there's a long way to go. We've got a lot of work to do and it's going to be up to us individually to prepare as best we can and then collectively when we come together we do the same."