Barring a long-shot appeal to the Supreme Court, Tom Brady will serve a four-game suspension for his role in the Patriots’ ball-deflation scandal. And while it might be a surprise, it shouldn’t have been unfathomable. For one, the appeals court judges seemed pretty amenable to the NFL’s arguments. For another, Brady’s recently reworked Patriots contract contains changes that read almost like they were prepared for this very thing.
Brady and the Patriots rework their deals all the time, but this latest one, completed last month, is especially aggressive in backloading Brady’s salary, and converting salary to bonus money. So much so that Brady will only be paid $1 million in salary in 2016—the pay cut being more than compensated for with a whopping $28 million signing bonus.
That bonus is his; the NFL can’t touch it. But when he serves his four-game suspension, he will forfeit four game checks. With his new, low salary, those checks aren’t so big. Under his old contract, his $9 million 2016 salary would have meant a loss of $2,117,647.06 over four games. His new $1 million salary means the suspension will now cost him only $235,294.12.
The savings, under Brady’s restructured deal? $1,882,352.94. That’s not nothing, and it’s also probably not entirely accidental.