As Tom Brady deals with a sore back, Patriots add incentives to his contract
FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady didn’t get any snaps in the Patriots’ preseason opener against Washington on Thursday night as he continues to be bothered by a sore back, according to a league source. He did, however, get a nice raise.
A league source confirmed the league’s reigning MVP will soon have his contract adjusted to bring his compensation more in line with the salaries of the league’s other elite quarterbacks. ESPN was the first to report the contract tweaks.
Brady has had a lighter than normal workload in practice over the last week as he nurses his back injury. He did very little during his birthday practice (Aug. 3) and again the next day. He had another slow day on Tuesday but did ramp up his activities during Wednesday’s afternoon session.
Brady was on the sideline in uniform and cheered on his teammates in the 26-17 win over the Redskins.
Brady was scheduled to make $15 million this season — $14 million in salary and $1 million in 46-man roster bonuses — and with new performance-based incentives he could earn significantly more, perhaps as much as $5 million, according to the report.
The 19-year veteran signed a two-year, $41 million contract extension in 2016.
This move is similar to what the team did for Rob Gronkowski last season. The tight end hit all of his incentives, increasing his salary from $5.25 million to $10.75 million.
Gronkowski could very well see a similar restructure for this season.
Brady is coming off a season in which he threw for a league-high 4,577 yards and 32 touchdowns while throwing just 8 interceptions. The three-time league MVP helped lead the Patriots to their second straight Super Bowl appearance, throwing for a record 505 yards in the loss to the Eagles.
Brady’s agent is Don Yee, who recently negotiated a five-year, $137.5 million deal for Jimmy Garoppolo, Brady’s former understudy who was traded to the 49ers last October.
Brady’s new $20 million figure would rank the 41-year-old 16th among quarterbacks in annual average salary, according to overthecap.com.
Atlanta’s Matt Ryan has the top annual average salary at $30 million, followed by Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins ($28 million), Garoppolo ($27.5 million), Detroit’s Matthew Stafford ($27 million), and Oakland’s Derek Carr and New Orleans’s Drew Brees ($25 million).
Others ahead of Brady include Indianapolis’s Andrew Luck ($24.5 million), Washington’s Alex Smith ($23.5 million), Baltimore’s Joe Flacco ($22.1 million), Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers ($22 million), Seattle’s Russell Wilson ($21.9 million), Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger ($21.8 million), the Giants’ Eli Manning ($21 million), the Chargers’ Philip Rivers ($20.8 million), and Carolina’s Cam Newton ($20.7 million).
Brady skipped the offseason program except for mandatory minicamp but said he did spend time working on his craft during the offseason. He has been at every training camp practice.
“Football is very, very important to me. It always has been, and I love being out here with my teammates. So, it’s great [to be back],’’ Brady said last month. “As you get older you have different responsibilities, and I think that’s just part of life. Everyone’s got to deal with those responsibilities differently and what works for them. Football is a huge part of my life. I love being here with my teammates and playing, and hopefully we can have a great season.’’
To concentrate on working on an area of his game he felt he needed to improve, Brady said he approached this past season a bit differently.
“You know, there’s a lot of things,’’ he said when asked what specific area he worked on. “It’s really everything. I mean, I think after every season, you’re trying to maintain certain things. I’m always working on my footwork, my mechanics. I spent a lot of time doing that this offseason. I think a lot of it is playing good football and staying healthy. That’s what it comes down to being a professional athlete. It’s being in good condition, being in good shape, making the right plays and reads, techniques, fundamentals for your position. I spend a lot of time doing that, and that’s got to transfer over to the field.’’
Brady, a five-time Super Bowl champion, drew high praise from Martellus Bennett Wednesday when the recently retired tight end appeared on “The Doug Gottlieb Show.’’
Bennett, who won Super Bowl LI with the Patriots and had a brief reunion with the team last season, was asked to compare Brady and Rodgers, with whom Bennett played with in Green Bay briefly in 2017.
“I think no one has more arm talent than Aaron,’’ Bennett said. “Aaron can do pretty much anything with the ball. I feel like Tom is really precise, easier to play with. I’d say [it was] easier to play with Tom than anybody else. He just makes the game easy, like what he expects, where he wants you to be, and where he’s putting the ball.’’
Bennett revealed what he believes to be one of the secrets to Brady’s success.
“It’s just repetition,’’ he said. “He does so many repetitions with you, whether it’s mental reps, physical reps, or walkthroughs, he’s always letting you know. He communicates the best of what he expects. The communication between him and the receiver is probably on the highest level of what you like to do, what he likes to throw. If he sees something, if you ask him to do something, he’ll try it, and he’s like, ‘Oh yeah, let’s go with that.’ ’’