The report of Tom Brady‘s through-2021 extension being made possible through the inclusion of two void years is accurate, leading the Patriots iconic quarterback into a de facto contract year. Brady will be headed toward 2020 free agency.
On Monday, more information emerged on this extension/2019 pay raise. Brady’s contract includes a provision the Patriots cannot place their franchise or transition tag on Brady in 2020, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The void years kick in on the final day of the 2019 league year, sending Brady to free agency for the first time.
While it is difficult to imagine the future Hall of Fame quarterback changing teams, this extension-in-name-only development certainly will make Brady’s status more interesting (should he decide to play next season).
Brady has obviously never hit free agency, and it still seems likely he will not next year. This contract can be renegotiated before the 2020 league year begins next March, with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reporting the Patriots constructed a deal that is not categorized as one that cannot be adjusted for a calendar year. So, odds are we will hear about another Brady contract before free agency.
Brady’s 2019 pay increases to $23MM, and SI.com’s Albert Breer notes (via Twitter) the Patriots got there by giving their 20th-year quarterback a $20.25MM signing bonus and $1.75MM base salary. The other $1MM comes through 16 $62.5MM per-game roster bonuses. The Pats saved $5.5MM in cap space.
The Patriots are going into an 18th Week 1 with Brady as their starter. The parties have formed one of the greatest partnerships in American sports history, with Brady’s unparalleled longevity and Bill Belichick‘s perennially top-end defenses powering the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships. This mutually beneficial setup would seemingly stand to continue into 2020, with the Patriots having yet to identify a true Brady successor since trading Jimmy Garoppolo. But Brady is entering uncharted territory as a 42-year-old full-time starting quarterback.
With Brady voyaging into (essentially) a walk year for the first time, this season does not feature as much certainty as the Pats’ most recent post-Garoppolo campaign did. As Florio points out, a quarterback-needy team could promise Brady an offseason windfall to lure him away from New England. Considering the discounts Brady has taken in recent years, a separation from the Patriots to close his career would be quite the development.
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