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Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Key points on Brady's contract

By Mike Reiss

The question was asked today, "Now that we know more details about Brady's contract, do you feel any differently about it being team-friendly?"

The feeling hasn't changed. It's easy to get bogged down in contract numbers, but here are the key points from our view:

1. Brady was scheduled to earn $30 million over the next two seasons as part of his old deal. His salary cap charges were $21.8 million in 2013 and $21.8 million in 2014. As part of his new deal, Brady will essentially earn $33 million over the next two seasons. So Brady gets an additional $3 million. What he gives up is future leverage and potential earnings because his salaries in 2015, 2016 and 2017 are well under market.

2. By agreeing to the under-market salaries in 2015, 2016 and 2017, Brady allows the team to spread out his salary cap charges over five seasons, which lowered his cap charges by $15 million in the first two years and thus gives the Patriots more flexibility at a time when the salary cap isn't rising. The Patriots plan to use the money to surround Brady with the best players possible.

ANALYSIS/OPINION: The second point is where Brady proved that, from this view, it's not about the money for him. That's why this is "team-friendly." Players are naturally reluctant to commit themselves to under-market salaries in the future unless they had some assurances it could be reworked, or they simply don't care about the financial aspect. Call me naive, but I don't think Brady cares and he isn't thinking about leverage or renegotiating in 2015. And I certainly don't think the decision has anything to do with how much his wife makes. I think this is simple: Brady wants to retire a Patriot, the Patriots want him to retire a Patriot and compete for championships, and Brady understands that when a player has a $21.8 million salary cap charge under an overall $120 million salary cap, it's hard to put 52 quality players around him to build the best team possible. So the sides worked together to reach a deal that gives Brady the best possible chance to retire a Patriot, and put the best team around him to win a championship, which is most important to him. That's the part that makes it rare from this viewpoint. Usually, a player is looking out for his interests, first and foremost. In this case, while Brady isn't taking less money in the first two years, he certainly gave up plenty in the final three years of the deal because he had the team's interests in mind. He could have held a much harder line if earning more was important to him.