Tom Brady has played football for what seems like an eternity. The former sixth-round pick is entering his 20th season in the league, and 18th as a full-time starter (19th if you want to count 2008). Despite his advanced age, the greatest quarterback of all time is still comfortably among the league’s elite passers. However, this contract might be the last deal the all-time great signs in New England. Brady cannot play forever (can he?) and Patriots fans should savor every last second of the next three to four seasons.
Edit: Turns out that the final two years on Brady’s extension void after the 2019 season, making this article entirely irrelevant.
The Latest Tom Brady Contract Might Be the Last One
Tom Brady has always said he wanted to play until he was 45. Brady is currently 42, and this latest extension will carry him through his age-44 season. He very well may hang up the cleats then, but New England can always use the franchise tag if he wants to play one final season. It’s hard to imagine him playing much longer than that, as he’s always mentioned 45 as the magic number.
Additionally, this contract gives the Patriots an out in case age suddenly catches up to Brady. The extension freed up cap space in the short term but launched Brady’s 2020 and 2021 cap hits to $30 and $32 million, respectively. There is no way Brady plays with those cap numbers, so New England will restructure the deal after the 2019 season. However, New England could walk away without any significant cap impact. Even when the Patriots re-work the deal, don’t expect any additional years added to the end of the contract.
Why Brady Signed It
At first glance, this deal appears to be a big win for the Patriots organization. The contract extension frees up considerable cap space and gives no real financial security to Brady beyond this year. However, when digging deeper, it’s clear to see that Brady stands a lot to gain from this deal as well.
For one, Brady gets more money right now. Brady was supposed to carry a $27 million cap hit in 2019, but he wasn’t going to receive $27 million in actual cash. This extension increases Brady’s 2019 salary by $8 million, which is obviously good news for Brady.
Additionally, this contract allows Brady to avoid the franchise tag. The franchise tag is a tool a team can use to stop one free agent a year from hitting the open market. The tag gives said player a one-year, fully guaranteed deal on the condition that the player does not hit free agency. Most players (justifiably) don’t want to play on the franchise tag, as the open market provides more long-term financial security than the forced one-year contract.
While the Patriots could move on from Brady after 2019, it’s highly unlikely that they actually do it. Brady is still one of the best in the game, and the Patriots don’t have an heir to Brady’s throne. Unless he undergoes a Peyton Manning style nosedive, he’ll still be New England’s best option for 2020 and 2021. Even if he starts playing like a league-average quarterback, the fanbase would turn on New England if they got rid of Brady any earlier than they needed to. Bill Belichick hasn’t considered public relations in the past, but Brady is a completely different situation. The man is a living legend in New England and Robert Kraft views him as a son.
It’s no secret that we are closer to the end of the Tom Brady Era than the beginning. If this contract truly does signal the end, then Patriots fans need to savor every second left. Brady is the best to ever do it and there’s never going to be anything like him again.