Sorting through what Pats can pay Brady

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Earlier in the week, I posted on the ramifications of the 30 Percent Rule on the Patriots’ most important pending contract situation — Tom Brady’s.

Soon thereafter, a cap guru named Ian who writes over at this Steelers site, and the creator of the patscap.com site, Miguel, reached out to me to go over my reasoning. And so it sent me to the phone lines to try and figure out whether Brady’s $3 million roster bonus (paid in 2009) or the $2.4 million proration on a 2006 roster bonus would be part of the calculation for the 30 percent rule.

OK, my original thinking here was based on two things … First, that the “30 percent rule” stated that base salaries could only rise by 30 percent each year; and second, that the salary number was only “Paragraph 5” money (paid out during the season).

I was tipped off by Miguel and Ian that roster bonuses could be computed to the 30 percent rule. So I checked with a couple agents and a couple team officials, and after some research, they agreed with that. So since Brady got a $3 million roster bonus, in addition to $5 million in base salary, in 2008, that would bring the capped figures up further. All the way to …

2010: $10.4 million
2011: $12.8 million
2012: $15.2 million
2013: $17.6 million
2014: $20 million

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That means, under those conditions, he can make $56 million over a four-year deal in base salary. In that case, if the deal was for $20 million per year, the Patriots would have to pay $24 million in signing bonus money (which, under the new Patrick Willis loophole, could be split up a bit), since option and roster bonuses are prohibited under the 30 percent rule. It also means that if you wanted to give Brady a five-year, $100 million deal, the signing-bonus number, $24 million, stays the same.

And … I found more. Most people I talked to didn’t think that option-bonus prorations could be used, believing they fell under the rules that kept signing-bonus prorations from being part of the calculations. But my new pal Ian pointed me to the Kevin Kolb deal, and after digging some with people around that one, I confirmed that a proration of a 2008 option bonus was, indeed, used by the Eagles and Kolb’s people to handle the 30 Percent Rule. That heaps another $2.4 million (a proration from a 2006 option bonus) on to the Patriots’ cap for Brady. That brings his figure for 2009 to $10.4 million, and raises the numbers another notch …

2010: $13.52 million
2011: $16.64 million
2012: $19.76 million
2013: $22.88 million
2014: $26 million

The bottom line here is that this can get done, though the cap numbers would surely be high on the back end. “There’s nothing standing in the way on Brady,” is what one veteran agent told me this morning, after I explained the numbers to him. Thanks to Ian and Miguel for the head’s up. This stuff … Well, it’s enough to get your head spinning. And a mea culpa for being a little (or more than that) off the first time.

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