MIAMI — Tom Brady exited stage left at Hard Rock Stadium Sunday night, allowing Patrick Mahomes to take center stage.
Much the way Brady has done for 20 seasons, Mahomes embraced the moment on the NFL’s biggest platform. The Kansas City gunslinger took control in crunch time and delivered a comeback Super Bowl victory over the 49ers.
After Mahomes’s heroics and his spectacular play the last two seasons, the inevitable comparisons with Brady surface constantly, and the Super Bowl MVP was asked if the Chiefs are poised for a Patriot-like dynastic run.
He wasn’t about to make any bold predictions.
“It’s pretty amazing the dynasty — or whatever you want to call it the Patriots have had these last 15 to 20 years — [but] for me, it’s about taking it one year at a time,’’ he said. “We came up short last year. We understood how hard of a challenge it was to get to this position again . . . and we understand next year it’s going to be the same.’’
It’ll be a challenge for the Patriots, too.
The first order of business for New England is to sort out the Brady situation. Is he truly “not going anywhere” as he said in his open-to-interpretation Super Bowl commercial?
The four-time Super Bowl MVP told Jim Gray at halftime that his daughter, Vivian, seemed excited about the message.
“When I walked in and saw her, she said to me, ‘Daddy, we’re not going anywhere!’ ” said Brady. “I thought it was so cute. She gave me a big hug.’’
Patriots fans will be lining up to give Brady a hug if he decides to stay in New England.
In the meantime, here’s what lies ahead for the Patriots as they continue their preparations for the 2020 season — which could very well open in Kansas City in early September.
■ The Combine: The league’s annual cattle call in Indianapolis runs from Feb. 23-March 2. The Patriots are projected to have a dozen picks in the draft (including compensatory selections) and this is when the team gets to poke and prod potential draftees and rookie free agents.
■ Free agency: The legal tampering period begins March 16, and teams can start signing players two days later. Aside from Brady, the Patriots have 19 players set to hit the market, including several key pieces — Devin McCourty, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Matthew Slater, and Joe Thuney among them — who will be in line for new deals and will have no shortage of suitors.
New England also will be in the market for some pieces, with tight end and offensive line reinforcements likely high on the priority list.
■ The draft: As mentioned, the Patriots will be busy from April 23-25 with 12 picks. New England owns the 23d overall selection on Day 1 and then three third-round selections (the second-round pick was sent to Atlanta for Mohamed Sanu).
That’s excellent capital for both roster building and getting younger, whether the picks are used or traded for established talent or future choices.
It would be shocking if Bill Belichick didn’t pull off multiple moves in an attempt to get back into the second round if there’s a player he covets.
■ Nick Caserio contract: The Patriots’ versatile and valuable director of player personnel’s deal is set to expire after the draft, and keeping him in the fold likely is a top priority. Same can be said for director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort, who recently interviewed for the Browns’ general manager’s job.
■ OTAs: The biggest question here, again, is Brady. If he re-ups, will he come to these voluntary workouts that are spread out from late May until early June?
Brady has skipped the sessions the last two seasons but may relish the chance to build more chemistry with his existing weapons (Sanu, N’Keal Harry) and whatever pieces are acquired in the offseason.