Now that the dust has settled on the exciting news surrounding Tom Brady's contract extension and the details of the deal have been released, it's time to take a bit of a step back, really asses the situation, and look at this deal for what it is. While it's impossible to argue that it was anything other than a team-first deal that left a lot of money on the table, set the Patriots up wonderfully in terms of the salary cap, and ensured that New England will remain competitive for the next several years, it's not like Brady got absolutely nothing out of the deal. Let's take a slightly more objective look at what this deal means that isn't the "Oh my Lord, I love that man" mentality that has been circling the Northeast like a pack of fat camp escapees around a stalled ice cream truck.
Significant signing bonus. Tommy B netted a cool $30 million dollars taking his little hometown discount, which is no small amount of money. That's also quite a bit of cash up front, which makes his insanely low base salary and soft cap hit seem a little bit less charitable than our initial impressions. It's also important to note that Brady didn't take any kind of pay cut with this new deal; in fact, he's scheduled to make $3 million more in the first two years of this deal than he would have before he restructured.
He is now guaranteed $57 million. While it's easy to look at Brady's fairly meager yearly salary, at the end of the day he has managed to guarantee virtually his entire contract. That's pretty much unheard of, as more often than not players are cut/traded before the heftier parts of their contracts come into play. But Brady is guaranteed to see almost every penny of his new deal regardless of how the next few years play out. So while he still undoubtedly took a team-friendly contract and is definitely letting money that could easily be spent on him go elsewhere, let's not think he's not getting a pretty serious payday out of this. Let's just hope he stays healthy.
Great bargaining chip for potential trade. This is something I hate to think about, but the cold hard facts point to the massive amount of trade appeal Brady could have in a few years. One of the biggest obstacles in trading blue-chip NFL players is the huge amount of money they are owed from their current contracts or the huge amount of money they are likely going to want with whatever team acquires them. With this deal, Brady represents an elite player who comes with a very reasonable cap hit, which means that the Patriots shouldn't have trouble trading Brady for tremendous compensation should that dark day ever happen. Any kind of cap hit the team might take from trading Brady would likely be worth it, as they could probably net a boatload of picks and/or a marquee player at a different position. I honestly don't think there's any way it will happen, even if there isn't a no-trade clause in Brady's current contract; he has simply done too much for this team and means too much for the entire region of New England for him to be traded at any point. But you can't rule it out; Belichick loves getting value for players and hates letting guys walk without getting anything in return for them. In two or three years, who knows what the NFL landscape will look like?
This really was a great deal for both sides; Brady got long-term security, all the money he was due from his initial contract, and the chance to fulfill his goal of playing until he turns 40. The Patriots locked up their most important player, got some much-needed cap relief, and can turn their attention towards assembling a team that will bring the Lombardi Trophy back to New England where it belongs.