10 Questions: Is Brady’s deal an issue?


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Part 1 in a 10-part series examining storylines leading into Patriots training camp …

The question: How will Tom Brady’s contract situation affect the team?

Three factors:
The labor climate; Peyton Manning’s negotiations; Brady’s $3.5 million salary for 2010.

Finding the answer: Last summer, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers got deals with nearly $40 million guaranteed, and so it stands to reason that Brady and the elder Manning brother could demand somewhere between $40 million and $50 million in guaranteed dollars on new long-term deals.

Now, consider that Brady’s set to make just $3.5 million in 2010, and you can understand just how much he’s putting on the line by playing out his old contract and putting his body at risk through 16 regular-season games, plus potential playoff games. You figure, through the numbers above, it could be up to $37.5-47.5 million.

You have to think somewhere along the line, if Brady’s assuming that kind of enormous risk, the club would have to also. Here it is – the longer you go without getting Brady done, the higher his pricetag rises.


There are factors at work related to the CBA. The 30-percent rule
shouldn’t stop a deal, but does limit how it can be structured. An
extension signed now, too, can’t have bonus money spread out (option,
roster bonuses can’t be used in these cases), which means, for both
Manning and Brady, one, big, lump-sum signing bonus might be necessary
to get the guaranteed dollars in order. That, of course, raises the
risk that the team could be penalized, retroactively, if the cap
returns in 2011 for a deal down now.

But let’s stop, step back and be real for a minute here. This is Tom
Brady and Peyton Manning we’re talking about here. These aren’t the
guys that you haggle with. These are the guys you take care of. And
whenever the first one signs a new deal, the heat will be on the other
quarterback’s team to follow suit.

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One thing that’s obvious is that Brady’s camp hasn’t been enthused by
negotiations to this point. You can also bet that, in light of what
happened with Deion Branch in 2006 (a year after he signed his last
deal), Brady’s closely following what’s happening with Logan Mankins.
If Brady’s Pro Bowl left guard shoots his way out of town, you’re
really left with one just cornerstone building block on the line for
the next half-decade (Sebastian Vollmer), and that’s something to be
considered.

There’s time to get this one done, of course. But there’s also a lot of
ground to cover. Remember, Brady had never been inside of two seasons away from
unrestricted free agency before. He’s now eight months from that. A 2011
franchise tagging seems to become a more likely scenario with each
passing day.