Tom Brady said it himself. This is a unique situation.
But tell us something we don’t already know.
The Patriots quarterback signed a new contract this past weekend. It was reported as a “two-year, $70 million extension.” By now, everyone knows that it translates to “salary cap manipulation.”
Brady will receive an $8 million raise in the final year of his current contract, bumping up his 2019 salary from $15 million to $23 million. In the process, the Patriots were able to spread out Brady’s cap hit with an “extension” worth $30 million in 2020 and $32 million in 2021, which, as a result, helped free up $5.5 million in cap space for the team this season.
It gives New England a total of $13 million in cap space for 2019, all while giving Brady a raise. Oh, and those two “extension” years? They both automatically void on the final day of the 2019 league year in March.
So that means Brady is still entering the final year of his contract and can become a free agent after this season.
Sound the alarms.
Run to your nearest bunker.
Watch the 2019 NFL season as if it’s the last, because Brady is pissed off and he is leaving New England the minute the league year is over.
(Takes a deep breath)
Ok, so that’s a major overreaction. And to be honest, it’s not even remotely close to how I’ve responded to this new Brady contract. But I do feel as if I’m in the minority in believing that this one-year-at-a-time approach is probably the most realistic approach for a situation that even Brady describes as “unique.”
“It’s a unique situation I’m in, ya know? Twentieth year with the same team, and I’ll be 42 years old, so, I’m really not worried about it,” said Brady on Monday when asked about still having just one year left on his contract.
However you want to break it down, Brady is criminally underpaid. It’s a unique situation because he’s still playing at an MVP-caliber level at 42. His performance at the quarterback position, at this age, is unprecedented.
So if you’re the Patriots, a year-to-year approach is nothing more than smart business. Now, had the Patriots made Brady the highest paid player in the NFL over the next three years with a monster fully-guaranteed contract, I’d be sitting here nodding my head in approval, as in, “It’s about time.”
And if Brady wanted to hold out for that monster fully-guaranteed contract, he wouldn’t lose any fans in New England. In fact, he’d probably gain some more fans around the league for finally deciding to play hardball with Bill Belichick.
But he didn’t. He signed the contract and took the $8 million raise. Nobody forced Brady to sign anything right now. For that, I can’t feel too bad for the guy.
Wait, what’s that? Brady just put his Brookline home on the market for $39.5 million?
Hold on, I need to run out and stock up on milk and bread!
(Takes another deep breath)
Clearly I’m mocking the overreactions again. Breaking down Brady’s new contract even further, you’ll see that he also got the Patriots to agree to a provision that prevents them from slapping him with the Franchise Tag for the 2020 season.
So, just to clarify: Brady gets a raise, the guarantee that he can’t be franchised next offseason, and the ability to open up enough cap space to potentially help add a piece to a Patriots team looking to win their second straight Super Bowl.
Combine that with Brady’s acknowledgement of the uniqueness of it all, and I’m not necessarily seeing the same broken relationship between Brady and Belichick that others are panicking about with this new contract.
Is Brady the happiest guy in the league? Probably not.
But he might be in February, which will get him another unique raise with the Patriots in 2020.
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