The New England Patriots two-year extension of quarterback Tom Brady is going to be big for the team's ability to retain talent for the future. What will the new contract look like? What will be the team's next couple of steps?
Let's take a look.
A Brady offseason restructure isn't anything new; he's done one now in each of the past three years.
In 2013, Brady restructured his deal to convert his 2013 and 2014 base salaries from $9.75 million down to $1 million and $2 million, respectively. In exchange, the Patriots paid him a $30 million signing bonus and tacked on three extra years to his contract to spread out the cap hit. This move saved the team cap room in 2013 and 2014 and pushed the hits to the three extra seasons of 2015, 2016, and 2017.
The 2013 contract extension originally made the 2015-17 years fully guaranteed if Brady were on the roster at the end of the 2014 season, but Brady restructured again in 2014 to remove that "full guaranteed" language, in exchange for increased base salaries of $1 million in each of the three seasons.
With Brady coming off fantastic 2014 and 2015 seasons, the Patriots thought it prudent to extend Brady into the future in order to reduce the cap hits in 2016 and 2017.
Brady's base salaries in those two years are $9 million and $10 million, respectively. The extension will likely mirror the one that occurred in 2013, where Brady receives a signing bonus in exchange for reducing his base salary.
It would make a lot of sense for Brady to receive a $20 million signing bonus, reduce his base salary to roughly $2 million in each season, and then have increased base salaries in 2018 and 2019 when the cap is expected to be much greater. This move would free up roughly $2 million in cap space, which would go a long way prior to free agency.
|2016||$ 9,000,000.00||$ 6,000,000.00||$15,000,000.00|
|2018||$ 9,000,000.00||$ 5,000,000.00||$14,000,000.00|
Miguel from PatsCap has an even better suggestion: instead of converting the reduced salary into a signing bonus, why not convert just part of the conversion into a signing bonus, and make the rest an option bonus at the end of the 2016 season? This will defer some of the cap hit from the bonus into future years and free up additional space for 2016.
A way to increase 2016 cap savings in a Brady extension=using an 2017 option bonus. Photo is one example.5m savings, pic.twitter.com/wSj38EXz4h— CapSpace=$13,638,036 (@patscap) March 1, 2016
This would open up a nice $5 million in cap space, which can go a long distance with the Patriots.
The Patriots need to sign extensions or contracts for seven key defenders- and you can be certain that Bill Belichick was watching the Broncos and their incredible defense carry Peyton Manning to the Super Bowl. Imagine if the Patriots could pair an elite defense with a quarterback that can actually throw the ball?
Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks is atop the Patriots free agency list and the cap space from Brady adjustment could be a one-for-one roster saving for Hicks. I believe Hicks will receive a contract value around $4-$5 million per season, and that aligns well with the space Brady's expected to open with the extension.
But don't expect Hicks to sign until he dips his toes in free agency. Instead, there are six other defenders that won't be free agents until after 2016, but ones that the Patriots would love to keep around.
Linebacker Dont'a Hightower tops the list as the most important Patriots defender on the roster. He's in the final year of his contract, which means that a long term extension would probably open up additional cap space. It's possible the Patriots wanted to handle Brady's contract before signing Hightower's adjustment.
Linebacker Jamie Collins would be second on the list, but his extension would likely eat up some of the cap space. Collins' rookie contract is a bargain and lists him as a $1.2 million cap hit in 2016, so a larger contract would naturally increase his cap hit by a few million.
Defensive end Chandler Jones is also an important cornerstone and his value has probably never been lower. After a torrid start to the season, Jones tapered off and then his incident with synthetic marijuana likely further harmed his value. Any extension for Jones would save a couple million in cap space.
Defensive end Jabaal Sheard could also see a new contract as he was the team's most reliable player at that position in his first year with the team. Extending Sheard could also save the team some cap space, while keeping one of the better defenders on the roster.
Cornerback Malcolm Butler is lower on the list because he'll be a restricted free agent after the 2016 season, but that's all-the-more reason to extend him. If Butler replicates his 2015 season, his value will skyrocket, but the Patriots currently have him under control for two more incredibly team-friendly cap values. This is a balance between keeping around a core player and manipulating the cap. This is why Butler's a lower priority- he only receives an extension this year if every other contract deal is handled. A Butler extension would jump his cap hit a few million.
Cornerback Logan Ryan is another player lower on the list because he's not an elite talent. That said, he came into his own in 2015 and did a solid job defending some of the best receivers in the league, like the Jets Brandon Marshall and the Broncos Demaryius Thomas. An extension for Ryan would increase his cap hit.
So in sum, extensions for Hightower, Jones, and Sheard would increase the cap space for the Patriots, while extensions for Collins, Butler, and Ryan would reduce cap space. It's unlikely that the Patriots will be able to manage all six, plus Hicks, with the current cap situation.
If the Patriots make additional moves by changing the contracts of receivers Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell, and tackle Marcus Cannon, then New England could pitch a perfect offseason with contracts for all seven of the defenders.