As news broke over the weekend that the Patriots and Tom Brady had agreed on a two-year contract extension, it initially appeared that the 42-year-old’s future in the organization was settled for the foreseeable future.
As terms of the deal have become known, however, the extension may pose more questions than it answered, at least beyond the 2019 season. Brady offered an explanation when asked about the new contract on Monday.
“It’s a unique situation I’m in,” Brady told reporters. “I’m [in the] 20th year with the same team and you know, 42 years old. Pretty much uncharted territory I think for everybody.”
Here’s a quick overview of what experts have said:
The specifics of what the deal means.
On Sunday afternoon, ESPN’s Field Yates reported that the two years of Brady’s extension were “void years,” a salary cap tactic used to create short term space.
To further this: the two years of Brady’s extension are void years, per source. This deal is about 2019: Brady gets a raise, while the void years allow the team to create cap space this season. https://t.co/DfthC32j6w
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 4, 2019
According to fellow ESPN reporter Mike Reiss, it’s a “historic” contract for the Patriots, who have never given out a deal like this one.
The deal, as Reiss explained, means Brady gets an additional $8 million on top of his original 2019 salary (meaning $23 million in total).
Joining @GetUpESPN to discuss Tom Brady's contract "extension" and what makes it unique, a Patriots trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and a good laugh on whether Bill Belichick and Brady spent some extra time at the Hall with the future in mind. pic.twitter.com/GylSeEaIbk
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 5, 2019
“Then they added two more years onto the deal,” Reiss noted, “but those years are actually void years. They’re there for salary cap purposes. They actually don’t exist. It’s very similar to what the Saints did with Drew Brees back in 2016 when they signed him to a five-year extension, but it was actually really a two-year deal because it included three void years on the end of it.”
“They’re going to be back at the negotiating table before the end of this 2019 league year,” Reiss concluded of Brady and the Patriots, citing the void years.
Brady’s salary cap hit for the Patriots is actually lowered by $5.5 million in 2019, due to — as MassLive Patriots reporter Andrew Callahan called it — “cap gymnastics” created by the void years.
“For now, Brady got a pay raise, and the Patriots freed up some valuable cap room” noted NESN’s Doug Kyed.
Looking at the big picture.
“This is what the Patriots do,” wrote Kevin Clark of The Ringer. “They take the savings from Brady’s deal and bring in pieces that help him, particularly midlevel veterans who have fallen out of style with many teams.”
Clark, who wrote about how Brady’s perpetually below-market contract was the real NFL MVP in 2017, believes that this trend has continued in an unbroken way since the New England quarterback first became a star.
“The fact is that the Patriots have more clarity and room to operate after completing this deal,” concluded Clark. “The Patriots operate well under any circumstances, but give them some cap room and a month to make some deals and they’ll probably figure something out—they’ve been doing it for 20 years, which is the length of time they’ve underpaid Tom Brady.”
“It’s definitely a win,” said ESPN analyst Ryan Clark of what the deal means for the Patriots. “And when you look at it that way, and you hear about the $8 million that it added to his contract, it was the right thing to do.”