It’s a biennial NFL tradition: Tom Brady reworks his contract with the Patriots to get more money up front in exchange for kicking the salary cap can down the road. Brady’s latest two-year extension was announced last month, but we now have the numbers.
Under the terms of the newest deal, which extends his contract through the 2019 season (but is functionally a two-year deal, as these things keep getting done when he’s got two years left on his contract), Brady will receive a $28 million signing bonus, and annual salaries of $1 million in 2016 and 2017, and $14 million in 2018 and 2019.
What does this mean?
• For Brady, it’s an immediate raise. He was set to earn $19 million over the next two seasons, but with his new signing bonus, he’ll now get $30 million over that same period.
• For the Patriots, it’s salary cap relief. By converting salary to bonus, and by spreading it out over two additional years, Brady’s cap number will now be $14 million in 2016 and 2017 before jumping to $22 million in each of the following two seasons. This is what they’ve done with every Brady extension, and each time they’ve reworked the deal to postpone that cap crunch. It will come eventually, but by that time the team will be in full-on rebuilding mode.
• For Brady, it’s a little bit of insurance in case the NFL’s appeal of his overturned suspension doesn’t go his way. Under his old contract, an unpaid four-game suspension would have cost him more than $2 million in salary. But with the reworked deal, the vast majority of his 2016 money comes as a bonus—meaning a four-game suspension would cost him just a couple hundred thousand in game checks.
• For the Patriots, it’s yet another creative solution that results in yet another flexible team-friendly contract. They keep one of the NFL’s best-ever QBs for an entirely reasonable $15 million a year, with a salary cap hit to match. (Brock Osweiler will be getting more money.) These kinds of contracts aren’t plausible for most teams or players, but Brady and the Patriots are in a rare situation where each side trusts the other not to take advantage. It takes a while to get to the point where you can agree to contracts that require assumption of good faith, but man is it ever worth it for both sides.