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A closer look at Brady's big deal

Posted by Albert Breer  September 14, 2010 10:37 PM

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BradyThrows.jpg
Tom Brady's four-year, $72 million extension has left  the Patriots quarterback atop the salary heap in the NFL. But as is always the case with pro football contracts, there is more to the deal than what lies on the surface. Let's dig deeper ...

BradyBob.jpg* Start here: As we discussed earlier, the APY (average per year) on the new money ($18 million) and total dollars paid out ($15.7 million) are the highest in league history, unless you count Brett Favre's pumped up 2010 deal as a one-year contract (it's actually an amended two-year deal). Either way, the bottom line is that a team that generally doesn't set the market found a way to top the quarterback heap on this one.

* The $48.5 million guarantee is a guarantee, as a practical matter. But the fact is all that money isn't truly, fully guaranteed. The re-allocation rule (teams can only fully guarantee money down the line to what they had left on the 2009 cap) that forced D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, Patrick Willis, Elvis Dumervil and others to have future money only partially guaranteed had an impact here as well. The aforementioned contracts aren't all cookie-cutters of one another, but all have post-lockout guarantees subject to those rules. On the aforementioned $48.5 million, $19.7 million is guaranteed against injury, but not skill. That means the Patriots have the right cut Brady for not being good enough and recoup that money (chances of that happening?), but the quarterback could file a grievance in that scenario and force the team to prove he's incapable. That's the outlandish non-guarantee scenario, anyway. If Brady suffered a career-ending injury tomorrow, he'd take home $48.5 million. The bottom line is he's getting that money.

* An important detail is the year-by-year payout. In Year 1, Brady will make $26.5 million. Through two years, he'll make $36.5 million. Through three years, he'll have $48.5 million. The latter two figures are, actually, areas where Brady falls short of the deal Eli Manning signed in the summer of 2009. The younger Manning gets $41.5 million through two years and $49 million through three. The difference? It's easier to play with the numbers in a longer deal, and Manning's extension was two years lengthier than Brady's, though the lengths also, of course, are tied to the guys' ages.

* The fact that this contract is backloaded (nearly $15 million due in 2014) to a certain extent will help give Brady the leverage at the end of this deal that he didn't have on the last one. For example, Peyton Manning's big 2010 cap number puts his 2011 franchise tag figure at $23.2 million, and would puts his 2011-12 tag total over $50 million. That gives Manning tremendous leverage. With a nice chunk of this deal backed into 2014 (plus prorations off a $16 million signing bonus), if the Patriots want to re-sign Brady again when he's 37, the negotiations will have a higher jumping-off point. This seemed to be a bit of a flaw in his last deal, and was clearly amended in this one.

... Overall, it's pretty clear that Brady got a good deal and mitigated 16 games worth of risk, while the Patriots can certainly claim victory in that they didn't have to absolutely alter the market the way Peyton Manning probably will.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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