New England Patriots: Clearer analysis on Tom Brady’s contract

The New England Patriots have many tough decisions to make this offseason, but none are tougher than figuring out what to do with the aging Tom Brady.

Tom Brady is set to become a free agent for the first time in his career this offseason – unless the New England Patriots can come up with a deal prior to free agency. It’s probably in the best interest of the Patriots to try and keep their franchise quarterback.

A lot of things need to go right in order for the New England Patriots to re-sign Tom Brady, especially concerning the financial part of the contract. After Brady’s last contract re-negotiations last season, his new $23M salary left the Patriots with a $21.5M cap hit.

Due to the re-negotiating, it left the Patriots with an additional $13.5M to input into Brady’s contract. If the New England Patriots and Brady are unable to reach an agreement prior to March 18th, then his $13.5M will count against the Patriots’ 2020 cap.

According to Tom E Curran of NBC Sports Boston, that $13.5M will count against the cap whether Brady re-signs with the Patriots in free agency or not.

Now, if a deal is able to be agreed upon, half of the $13.5M ($6.75M) will be against the cap for 2020. What this means is that regardless of what the Patriots offer him for a new contract, $6.75M will be added to his season salary.

The most interesting part of contract negotiations with Brady is his unappealing age. The 42-year-old quarterback made it clear he wants to keep playing, no matter what the future may hold for him in New England.

It’s hard to make a judgement call in this situation. Yes, Brady is 42, but he is also a six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback and arguably the best of all time at his position.

What’s intriguing about this are comments made by Robert Kraft in an interview with Peter King back in 2013, again per Tom E Curran from NBC Sports Boston:

“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.”

We think a lot of the time it’s Bill Belichick who makes the decisions, but Kraft will always have the declaring final say. It’s been seven years since that interview and it doesn’t appear Kraft has changed his mind on how much money he should pay his players.

Kraft had these thoughts seven years ago when Brady was still only 35 years old. If he didn’t want to make an exception to his rule then, why would he do so now when Brady is 42 years old?

It puts the Patriots in a very tough position, considering there are a handful of other players on the team set to become free agents. But If Kraft is sticking to his guns, that means the Patriots could only offer Brady a contract somewhere in the vicinity of about $24M, which is around the 18 to 20 percent mark Kraft had mentioned.

Brady’s salary would then be just over $30M. The thing is, if Brady is looking for one last payday from the Patriots in some form other than a seventh Super Bowl ring, he’s going to have to look elsewhere to get it.

If Brady and the New England Patriots are unable to get a deal done before the start of free agency on March 18th, Brady will have the opportunity to meet with other teams and entertain their offers.

If that does happen and Brady gives the Patriots an opportunity to match the offer in order to keep him in New England, chances are it’s going to be for a lot more money than what the Patriots are willing to pay. At this point it would hurt the Pats even more because they would still be charged for his $13M cap hit.

Another thing the New England Patriots would need to do is promise Tom they will bring in some reinforcements for him. Usually Brady can mask the issues within the offense with his veteran skill set, but the lack of weapons this past season only hurt the offense.

Moving forward, the Pats will need an upgraded wide receiver and tight end group, along with a potential new left guard if the team loses Joe Thuney in free agency.

In regards to the “fearless leader” of the Patriots, it seems as if Belichick has been ready to move on from an aging quarterback before, and would have probably preferred to avoid this whole situation. Especially now that we’re all seeing the guy who would have been Brady’s successor, Jimmy Garoppolo, lead his San Francisco 49ers to the NFC Championship Game and possibly the Super Bowl this year.

Next: Who's more valuable to the Patriots: Brady or Belichick?

As previously mentioned, a lot of things need to go right on behalf of the New England Patriots in order to keep Tom Brady back in town for at least another season.

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