Signed, sealed, delivered — he’s theirs.
Tom Brady officially became the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Friday, putting pen to paper to join another team after 20 years with the Patriots.
“If there is one thing I have learned about football, it’s that nobody cares what you did last year or the year before that,” Brady wrote on Instagram. “You earn the trust and respect of those around through your commitment every single day. I’m starting a new football journey and thankful for the @buccaneers for giving me an opportunity to do what I love to do.”
Brady’s new deal is for two years and $50 million. There is no signing bonus, which is consistent with how the Bucs do their player contracts, but Brady gets a $15 million base salary in 2020 and 2021. Also guaranteed are roster bonuses of $10 million each due on the third day of the 2020 league year and the fifth day of the 2021 league year.
He can earn up to $4.5 million more each year in incentives — up to $2.25 million for finishing in the top five in passer rating, touchdown passes, passing yards, completion percentage, and yards per attempt, and up to $2.25 million for making the playoffs, playing time in the playoffs, making the Super Bowl, and playing time in the Super Bowl.
He will account for around $25 million against Tampa Bay’s salary cap in each year of the deal.
“Tom is a proven champion who has achieved greatness on the field because he demands the best out of himself and his teammates,” said Bucs general manager Jason Licht, who was on the Patriots’ scouting staff when they drafted Brady in 2000.
“I’ve known Tom since we drafted him in New England 20 years ago and through this process it became very clear that his desire to be a champion burns as strong today as it ever has. He possesses the type of rare natural leadership qualities that will immediately impact our entire organization.”
The contract prohibits the Buccaneers from trading or tagging Brady, which gives the quarterback control should he desire to play beyond it. One of the major sticking points in recent negotiations between Brady and the Patriots, and one reason a deal did not get done, was the friction between Brady’s desire to play for a long time and the Patriots’ desire to go year-to-year with the 42-year-old quarterback.
In the end, though Brady can earn up to $59 million with the deal, it’s not quite the $60 million fully guaranteed that, according to multiple reports, was Brady’s initial ask. When it came down to it, the only two legitimate suitors for Brady were the Los Angeles Chargers and the Buccaneers, with Brady reportedly choosing Tampa to stay on the East Coast to be closer to family in New York.
Brady completed his physical in New York because he could not travel to Tampa under the NFL’s current COVID-19 restrictions. That was a logistical hurdle that held up the deal for a day or two, though never seemed to put it in jeopardy.
Brady announced Tuesday that he was leaving the Patriots, and it didn’t take long for reports to start coming out of Los Angeles that the Chargers knew they were runners-up.
The Buccaneers offer Brady a head coach in Bruce Arians who values human connection and relationship-building in a similar way to Brady. That will be different from what he had in New England. Arians has worked with other star quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.
"Tom is the most successful quarterback in the history of our league, but what makes him so special is his ability to make those around him better," Arians said in a statement. “I have had the privilege to work with some of the best passers in our game, and the characteristics they all possessed were the ability to lead and get the best out of their teammates.
"Tom is no different. He is a proven winner who will provide the leadership, accountability and work ethic necessary to lead us to our goal of winning another championship.”
The hope in Tampa is that adding that “proven winner” will change the fortunes of the franchise. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Brady could lose his next 283 starts and still hold a better career winning percentage than the Buccaneers have as a franchise. He also has five times as many playoff wins, five more Super Bowl wins, and seven times as many 30-touchdown seasons as all the quarterbacks in Bucs history.
And in New England, where there is true uncertainty at quarterback for the first time in many years, the question remains whether the separation will significantly change the local team’s fortunes as well.