Posted: Monday May 9, 2005 9:34AM; Updated: Monday May 9, 2005 12:57PM
Under the new contract, Tom Brady's cap number for 2005 is just $3.417 million.
So Tom Brady kept his word. He wasn't a pig at the trough during contract extension negotiations with the Patriots. He could have been, given he has won three Super Bowls by age 27. We all know Brady could have asked for anything and won the public relations battle with the team. Peyton Manning's making $14.2 million a year, with the Colts, and he signed that deal a year ago, Brady could have said. You guys are high if you think I'm doing a deal for $10 million a year -- especially after ESPN just raised the ante ridiculously with the new broadcast contract.
But Tom Brady gets it. He knows there have been only so many sporting Camelots in recent history, and he's smack-dab in the middle of one of them. Five days after this most recent Super Bowl triumph, Brady was vegging out in Honolulu on the deck outside his hotel room, talking on the phone about what he wanted from the contract extension destined to get done this offseason.
"To be the highest-paid, or anything like that, is not going to make me feel any better,'' he told me. "That's not what makes me happy. In this game, the more one player gets, the more he takes away from what others can get. Is it going to make me feel any better to make an extra million, which, after taxes, is about $500,000? That million might be more important to the team.''
Read those words over again. I mean, how many guys in sports history, on the verge of signing the biggest contract they'll probably ever negotiate, have said to the team: "Hey Mr. Kraft! I really don't want that much money. Just be somewhat fair, OK? And have a nice day ..."?
The mark of Brady's self-assuredness and humility about his place in the football galaxy is that when he signed his six-year, $60 million contract in the middle of last week, I'm told he didn't even go out and celebrate. Neither he, his family nor his representative leaked the contract; I'm also told Brady's dad found out about the deal from a reporter.
The deal is about $4 million a year less than Manning's, $3 million a year less than Mike Vick's, who's really going to have to go out and perform for that deal to pay off for Atlanta. Give or take a few BMWs, Brady's contract averages out to about what Donovan McNabb and Chad Pennington make.
Let's see how, year to year, Brady's new contract compares to Peyton Manning's deal. I contrast these deals because Brady and Manning are the best two quarterbacks in football, in some order.
Manning's cap number
Brady's cap number
Let's assume each guy plays out his contract. (A bad assumption, particularly in Manning's case, because the Colts won't want to pay 18 percent of their cap total during the last three years of Manning's deal to one player.) But if you assume each player stays with the team until the end of the deal, Brady's contract is so much more team-friendly, obviously. He'll take up -- and I'm educated-guessing here -- the following percentages of the Patriots' cap over the next six years (keep in mind the cap will bump up significantly with the new network deal beginning next season): four percent, eight percent, 11 percent, 12 percent, 11 percent, 9.5 percent.
Which means the Patriots won't ever be able to say that in Brady's prime he took up too much salary space for the team to pay Richard Seymour and Deion Branch ... and, in the future, maybe Ben Watson and Dan Koppen and The New Running Back of 2009 and Eugene Wilson and whoever else surfaces that the team really needs.
What I really like about this, too, is it says to the rest of the players that the two big leaders have sacrificed personal gain for the team. Tedy Bruschi, whether he ever plays football again or not (and I still have no idea if he will), showed it last year by signing a four-year, $8.1 million contract with the Patriots while he had a deal twice that big on the horizon if he had put his foot down or chosen the free-agency path.
Now Brady. The Pats said no over the last couple of years to big money for Ty Law and Lawyer Milloy and to lesser money for Troy Brown and Joe Andruzzi, so they're able to distinguish between what they really need and what they think, based on experience, they can do without.