DETROIT — The two-year contract extension for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, which will pay him $23 million this year, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, reinforces that Brady’s actions back his words when it comes to contracts. It also highlights how the sides have one of the most unique arrangements based on trust that has been built over time.
Brady has said making top dollar has never been a priority, in part because he wants better players around him. So at a time when he was underpaid and entering the last year of his contact in 2019, he could have followed others around the NFL who didn’t report to camp in hopes of providing a spark for a new deal.
That was never part of his thinking this year. It never has been before. Brady obviously had trust that the Patriots would bring his pay in line with his performance — a measure of respect that all players appreciate — in a way that worked for both sides.
But consider an alternative scenario: Brady decides to play hardball, lets his contract expire after the 2019 season, and then the Patriots could have had to assign the franchise tag of about $32 million for 2020 if they wanted to keep him around.
If Brady was about pushing the financial envelope, that would have been the play. The risk, of course, would be that Bill Belichick could have turned to a different option, such as 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham, and then Brady would finish his career elsewhere.
Brady, who still maintains a sixth-round-draft-pick chip on his shoulder, doesn’t want that. He also doesn’t want to give Belichick a reason to think along those lines.
So they found common ground, which is what they have done at various points over the past 20 years. The approach is at the heart of what has allowed one of the most successful trios in professional sports — owner Robert Kraft, Belichick and Brady — to sustain.
One of the most notable parts of Brady’s two-year extension is that the two seasons added are void years, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. What that means is the extension gives Brady an $8 million raise this season, and then the sides can –and likely will — adjust the contract in 2020 and 2021, according to Schefter.
So the salaries for 2020 (reportedly $30 million) and 2021 (reportedly $32 million) are essentially placeholders, and the sides will meet up again at the negotiating table after the season to determine the best way to proceed as Brady hopes to achieve his goal of playing until he’s 45.
Such an arrangement works because of the rare trust between them.