Why Tom Brady won’t get $5 million in contract incentives

The Patriots quarterback earned none of his performance bonuses.

Tom Brady throws a pass against the Jets at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 30, 2018.

Tom Brady’s contract for the 2018 season included a few bets on himself, each worth a million dollars. Historically, this has been a lucrative approach. This year, with Brady and the Patriots offense suffering some uncharacteristic struggles, it was not.

With the regular season over, it’s possible to take stock of which performance bonuses players hit. Brady went 0-5.

According to salary data from Spotrac, the 41-year-old quarterback had five incentives in his current contract, each worth one million dollars. They were triggered if Brady finished among the top five quarterbacks in the NFL this season in:

  • Passer rating
  • Completion percentage
  • Yards per pass attempt
  • Touchdown passes
  • Passing yards

The incentives were considered “likely to be earned,” according to Spotrac, as Brady finished in the top five in each of those stats in 2017. That was an important distinction, as it meant that the $5 million counted against the Patriots’ cap figure regardless of whether or not Brady earned it in 2018.


Yet Brady finished outside the top five in all of his incentive categories, a rare occurrence for one of the league’s most consistent quarterbacks. As a result, the Patriots will reportedly be given a $5 million credit towards next season’s cap number.

Here’s how Brady – who threw for 4,355 yards and 29 touchdowns – finished in NFL rankings in each of the categories:

Passer rating: 12th

Completion percentage: 18th

Yards per pass attempt: 13th

Touchdown passes: 10th

Passing yards: 7th

Brady’s series of team-friendly contracts have always been an ace in the hole for Bill Belichick and the Patriots, allowing for more cap flexibility in building the rest of the roster.


And despite missing out on the performance bonuses, Brady will still make $15 million in 2018 compensation.