Over the course of his first five years in the NFL, David Andrews has seen dozens of teammates come and go. One of the few constants was the man who lined up behind him on the vast majority of his snaps during the regular season and playoffs as well as in practice: Tom Brady. The pairing started 62 games alongside each other since Andrews was signed by the New England Patriots in 2015, and played a pivotal role in bringing two championships to the organization.
Andrews, however, will have to snap the football to another starting quarterback moving forward after Brady left New England earlier this offseason to sign a free agency deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Having to adjust to personnel changes is nothing new for the veteran offensive lineman, as h pointed out during a recent appearance on the Athletes Over Adversity podcast: Andrews’ thoughts on Brady’s departure follow the Patriots’ classic “it is what it is” mantra.
“It was the longest I ever played with a quarterback,” said Andrews. “I learned so much from him. The attention to detail that all the stuff matters, the little things matter.”
“Obviously that’s a special bond quarterbacks and centers have, but that’s just part of it,” he continued when speaking about his long-time teammate leaving New England earlier this offseason. “You learn that very quickly in the NFL: NFL stands for ‘Not For Long.’ I think that can be applied to many things, whether it’s your own career or teammates. That’s just part of it and you can’t let it get you down. You have to move forward.”
For the Patriots, moving forward means more than adjusting to life after Brady this year. The team also has to fill the void created by other departures — from linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, to special teamers Stephen Gostkowski and Nate Ebner, to the man who replaced Andrews during the 2019 season: Ted Karras, who stepped in after the starting center was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs and subsequently placed on season-ending injured reserve last August, also left New England.
“Unfortunately, that’s just part of this business,” Andrews noted. “You’re going to lose teammates every year to trades or to cuts. I learned that early on: my wife and I, we were really close with this couple. We came in together and were actually roommates during the offseason program. He ends up getting traded in the middle of our second year. That’s just part of this business, and it is what it is. You hate losing a teammate no matter who it is.”
Andrews did not just lose his former starting quarterback (Brady) and backup (Karras) this year, but also saw other members of his position group leave the team comparatively recently.
“I remember losing Nate Solder after 2017,” he said. “He was such a great role model, a leader, a guy that I looked up to and respected. Losing him was like ‘Damn, what are we going to do?’ Then we get Trent Brown — I love Trent and have the utmost respect for him, enjoyed playing with him. Obviously, he was a hell of a football player too. We had a great room [in 2018], just a great offensive line. ‘Man I don’t want this to end!’ and the next thing you know, he’s leaving. And you’re like ‘That sucks! Where’s Trent?’ but now I got to play with Isaiah Wynn who I went to Georgia with.
“That’s just part of this business. It always sucks losing a teammate, and a guy you were close with and played with for so long,” Andrews continued.
For the 27-year-old, however, the only direction is forward. He was medically cleared to resume playing again after a year on the sidelines, while the team itself has a deep albeit somewhat unproven roster to replace Brady, Van Noy and the other departees. Accordingly, Andrews sounded rather positive when talking about the Patriots’ outlook for the 2020 season — despite not talking in concrete terms about the current squad.
“I’m excited for the future, excited for this team and to be a part of this team.”