The unthinkable has happened; Brady's been sent packing. Just in case you missed it: Tom Brady has been traded. Unthinkable. And by unthinkable, this is mind-blowingly unbelievable - Brady has been traded to the Seattle Seahawks for the 2010 1st round, 6th overall; 2010 1st round, 14th overall; 2010 2nd round, 60th overall pick, and a conditional 2011 2nd (which may be upgraded to a first round, depending on performance).
It makes sense, from a certain point of view - Brady was in his contract year, and bound to be in line for a massive payrise. Much like Richard Seymour, the Pats Front Office decided that getting some value out of an ageing Brady was more important, and traded him to the QB-hungry Seahawks.
Further, the nature of negotiations have changed. Brady was playing out the final year of his contract. But his next one wouldn't resemble his current contract in any way, shape or form. Consider this:
Brady's six-year, $60 million deal, signed in 2005, included a $14.5 million signing bonus and a $12 million option bonus in Year 2.
In other words, his 2005 contract was relatively team-friendly. However, the trend now is for massive front-ended guaranteed money (from the same article):
In 2010, though, that isn't exactly what players are looking for. For more than a year, agents have put an emphasis on what players are receiving "before the lockout." And now, since a potential lockout is less than a year away, players aren't going to be as receptive to allowing their bonus money to be spread out.
So New England has adjusted and, outside of workout bonuses and the like, almost all the bonus money is being paid in Year 1. Vince Wilfork got an $18 million signing bonus. Tully Banta-Cain and Leigh Bodden got respective $6 million signing bonuses. Those deals (the only 2010 deals negotiated by the Patriots that extend into 2012) don't have roster or option bonuses down the line at all, with the rest of the money tied into base salaries, the aforementioned workout bonuses and incentives.
So Tom would've cost a lot to resign for 2011 onwards, and he would've demanded it up front. It's Seymour all over again - trading a last-year-of-contract veteran who is going to cost a bundle in free agency for a stack of draft picks. Better to flick him off to the Seahawks while there's still value on his current contract and let the Seahawks stress over his 2011 guaranteed cash, right? Right?!
But on another level, this is just outright ridiculous. What was the Front Office thinking? This is Tom Fricking Brady!
What's going on? Perhaps this will shed light. The Pats realise the 2010 draft class is fantastic, and looks even more so now they have multiple first-rounders. As Albert Breer notes:
Their own evaluation of this draft class (very deep in talent, which is something that was forecasted at the time of the Seymour deal) says they should have [traded for 2010 picks, not 2011 picks]. Moreso, too, when you consider the '11 class should be a bit depleted, particularly with the exodus of underclassmen this year and the possibility far fewer declare next year because of what could be a looming lockout.
So they basically realise they got the short end of the straw with the Seymour deal - a 2011 draft pick - and want to rectify it with a veritable swag of 2010 first-rounders. I can potentially see the logic. BUT TOM BRADY!!!! Who is going to replace him?
I'm struggling for words at this point, but I have to think it is related to the kerfuffle around Tim Tebow. In recent days, Belichick has been utterly effusive in praise for the young Florida QB:
"Great career, great player," Belichick said when Tebow's name was brought up.
Of his much-ballyhooed flawed throwing motion, which Tebow has been working to change for several weeks, Belichick said, "I think it's obvious that in the last six weeks, his mechanics, he's worked on them and they've improved, which is a credit to him. He's very coachable and he works very hard. I'm sure that whatever he feels he needs to do he'll work very hard at, whatever that is. Athletically, he tested very well at the Combine, which you can see on the field."
It's further than just praise. In fact, he's been in New England as recently as two days ago. He wasn't playing tourist; Tebow was being wined and dined in recent days by both Belichick and Nick Caserio. He was taken to a swanky restaurant, amusingly, being treated in a manner far and above that of the Pats Front Office when wooing Rodney Harrison as a free agent. In other words, the Pats love Tebow. They're saying it publically. They're wooing him publically. And now they're traded out the franchise QB.
Beware the ides of April, Mr. Brady. Enjoy that lovely Seattle weather. And welcome to New England, Mr. Tebow.