The NFL is first and foremost a business. There’s a reason a disliked and unethical person like Roger Goodell is the commissioner – he makes the owners a lot of money. And while decisions are almost always based on cold hard facts and numbers, Tom Brady got his huge contract with the New England Patriots for other reasons as well.
Even the greatest of NFL players don’t get to finish their career with the franchise they excelled for most of their careers, sometimes, end it with another team. Because there is nothing such as a lifetime guarantee in the NFL, and when the cost of a player doesn’t match the production the team thinks they’re getting from him, he often goes to somewhere else, or retires.
But some owners are fans as well, besides being business men. Maybe that is what makes the best of ’em different. The Green Bay Packers are basically a team run by its fans, and they’ve been mostly successful over the years, although it didn’t help them keep Brett Favre, probably his fault, and something not a lot of people in Green Bay regret.
But Peyton Manning and Joe Montana are other examples of players who left their teams to end their career somewhere else (Peyton’s road isn’t over) after becoming legends, synonymous with the success at the Colts and 49ers respectively. Tom Brady is made of the same stuff, better or worse is besides the point. He is, along with a select few (not necessarily players) who have been through the best of times for the orginization. That’s something that owner Robert Kraft couldn’t let go of.
I was probably wearing my fan hat as much as anything else. I just didn’t want to ever see this become like Joe Montana leaving San Francisco,Emmitt Smith leaving Dallas, Brett Favre leaving Green Bay, Peyton Manning leaving Indianapolis. If Tom Brady played out this current contract and left us, there was no doubt in my mind that someone out there would pay him top dollar, and they should, for his ability, his leadership and his unselfishness.
I was just trying to stay ahead of the curve. If we were going to have to pay him elite-quarterback money and have elite-quarterback cap numbers, I just didn’t think we would be able to build a team. We don’t want to have a team where we’re paying 18 to 20 percent to a player on the cap.
I wanted to do something elegant that would work for everybody. I had been talking to him off and on for maybe 18 months, about how I wanted him to finish his career here, and about how we both have to be smart about it. I just really want him to end his career a Patriot.
Tom Brady has been with the New England Patriots since 2000, winning three Super Bowl rings with the team and making two more finals, losing to the New York Giants. He has two MVP awards and has been named to 8 Pro Bowl teams. That’s not a player you let go of, regardless of the costs, even if it takes him into his 40th year. But you have to be a tad smart about it, as Kraft is.
Maybe it signals a change of direction for the Patriots, who some attribute their lack of success to win the Super Bowl for the last 8 years because the team strayed from the formula that made them so successful in the beginning of the previous decade; too Tom Brady centric, while the running game and defense faded away.
According to league sources, Brady received a $30 million signing bonus with the deal that clears up $15 million of cap space for the team over the next two seasons. Although he averages a well-below-market value $9 million per season, he is guaranteed $57 million, even in the event of injury.
I am glad we are able to take negotiations out of this relationship for the next five years. Look, I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next five years. No one can know. But this move, strategically, helps us be in a position to win. We’re going to spend to the cap.
Tom knows that it’s not like whatever we don’t pay him we’re putting in the Kraft family pocket. He gets it, and now he’s rooting for us to make the right decisions in building the team. By the way, I have heard that it’s been reported Tom made demands about who he wanted us to sign. Absolutely not. It never happened.