DETROIT — As Tom Brady strolled the halls of the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend, a place his career should one day be commemorated, one bit of his immediate football future was getting ironed out behind the scenes.
Brady and the Patriots agreed to a two-year contract extension Sunday, a league source told the Globe. The deal, struck a day after Brady’s 42nd birthday, runs through the 2021 season. It’s main impact, though, is on the here and now: Brady gets a raise and the Patriots get additional cap flexibility in 2019.
The NFL Network reported that the total value of Brady’s extension is $70 million. He’ll earn $23 million this season, an $8 million raise from what he was set to earn on his old deal.
The extension will make Brady, coming off his ninth Super Bowl appearance and sixth victory, the sixth-highest paid player in the NFL for 2019.
“I’ve had such a great experience over a lot of years,” Brady said last week, asked about the prospect of a new contract. “I appreciate this team and the opportunity it gave me in 2000. I play for a great coach, coach [Bill] Belichick, Josh [McDaniels] and I have a great working relationship. I love Mr. [Robert] Kraft and his family. We’ve had just incredible success so hopefully we keep it going.”
Even though he gets that $8 million salary bump, ESPN reported that Brady’s 2019 salary-cap hit will come down by $5.5 million. Had he and the Patriots not come to an agreement on an extension, he’d have counted for $27 million against the cap in 2019, which would have been the fourth-highest cap hit in the NFL this year. Brady has not had a top-10 cap hit in the last five years.
The Patriots were $7.5 million under the salary cap before Brady’s extension. Adding $5.5 million to that total would put them $13 million under, giving them room to sign a high-impact player.
Brady is on the books to earn $30 million in 2020 and $32 million in 2021 with this extension, but those numbers could easily change. ESPN reported that both future years are voidable, which would mean that their primary function is to help create cap relief by spreading the hit from Brady’s signing bonus over more seasons.
With 2020 and 2021 being voidable, Brady and the Patriots would essentially still be going year to year. Patriots fans, those first-world problem-havers of the NFL, will be wondering about Brady’s contract again after 2019.
“We’re all day to day if you think about it,” Brady said last week when pressed about when and if he’d get an extension. “None of us are really promised anything.”
He was joking, but the sentiment rings true now.
Brady and the Patriots are in a unique spot. No NFL quarterback has played for so long and maintained as high a level of performance as Brady has, but trusting that will continue runs counter to the values and business practices the Patriots have stuck by under Bill Belichick.
That’s the rub that made it slow going for Brady and the team to reach an agreement. Back in March, when the additional cap room could have been used during the initial rush of free agency, the two sides weren’t talking. Even last week, though Brady was affable in his delivery, he implied he was the one waiting for the Patriots to pony up.
“Talk to Mr. [Robert] Kraft, come on,” he said, laughing.
It sounds like Kraft heard him loud and clear. Brady got a raise and the Patriots got additional flexibility this year, a win-win.
Just be clear on the fact that we’re using a loose definition of the word “extension” when we talk about this deal and that both sides could very well be back at the drawing board next spring or summer.
Take it from the man himself: We’re all just day-to-day if you think about it.