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Tom Brady present for Patriots' charity event in advance of mandatory minicamp

All of the furor surrounding Tom Brady’s absence for the team’s voluntary offseason program and speculation over whether the quarterback will be part of mandatory events this week was resolved on Monday.

As the New England Patriots hosted their annual charitable “fantasy camp” day, where big-monied fans get to spend the day interacting with players and coaches – the camp replaced the golf day the team held for years – Brady was present, and the team made sure to send out a photo on social media.

Rob Gronkowski also present

In addition to Brady, another key Patriots player who has stayed away this offseason, tight end Rob Gronkowski, was also on hand for the fantasy camp. Gronkowski is looking for a reworked contract, and reportedly will get one sometime soon.

Tom Brady, far right, has returned to the New England Patriots after spending the offseason away from team activities. Here he takes part in a Patriots’ “fantasy camp” event on Monday, with minicamp beginning Tuesday. (New England Patriots/Twitter)

After taking part in New England’s offseason program for the past several years, Brady has not been with the team for any previous phase of the program this year, instead opting to travel the world (he was at the Monaco Gran Prix during Memorial Day weekend as part of his sponsorship deal with watchmaker Tag Heuer) and spend time with his young family.

There were reports that he’d done some work with receiver Julian Edelman, who is coming back from a torn ACL suffered last preseason, and Brady was in Boston last Friday and Saturday for the annual Best Buddies charity events he’s been part of for years.

Patriots expected Brady at minicamp

New England owner Robert Kraft told reporters at last month’s NFL meetings in Atlanta that he expected Brady to be at the three-day minicamp this week.

While the on-field work will be held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, presence at the fantasy camp is also mandatory for players.

“These are voluntary workouts, and I think he’s in great shape,” Kraft said. “I think he’s at an age where – I was thinking back to when he joined us – he’s blessed to have three children now and built a number of businesses and has certain responsibilities.

“I think it’s very hard for him to fulfill those during the season and the commitment he has to football. I can only say this: I know he’s very excited about being at minicamp and having a very special season this year.”

Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, has made no secret in recent years of her desire for Brady to retire from football because of the intense commitment it requires in-season. It would make sense if Brady scaling back this offseason is a compromise between the couple.

Patriots offense looks different

Brady and Edelman have long spent time together in the offseason, so it’s not a surprise that the two have worked together as Edelman gets back into shape after his injury.

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But since Brady was last on the field in uniform, in Super Bowl LII, the Patriots’ roster of offensive players looks a little different: Brandin Cooks, who did well in his one season with the team, was traded to the Los Angeles Rams, and versatile running back Dion Lewis signed a free-agent contract with the Tennessee Titans. Left tackle Nate Solder is gone as well, signed with the Giants.

The Patriots drafted running back Sony Michel in the first round, and also drafted offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn. They also signed receiver Jordan Matthews and acquired receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in a trade with Oakland.

With Brady not on the field, veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer has taken the snaps with the first-team offense.

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