By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Tom Brady has some added incentives in his contract for 2018. He’s also set to get a nice bonus up front.
A pair of new reports shed more light on Brady’s reworked contract with the New England Patriots, which turned out to be more than just an addition of incentives. The extra $5 million that he can earn is comprised of five $1 million bonuses, which would each become $2 million if the Patriots win Super Bowl LIII, according to Albert Breer of The MMQB.
However, the incentives are still capped at $5 million. So he could hit just three of the five benchmarks and still get to $5 million if the Pats win it all.
In addition, ESPN’s Field Yates reported on Saturday that $10 million of Brady’s salary has been converted to a signing bonus, giving him $10 million guaranteed up front.
Per Breer’s report, Brady will earn $1 million each if he finishes top-5 in the NFL in the following categories: passer rating, completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown passes, and passing yards. He finished top-5 in all of those categories in 2017, including the most passing yards in the NFL with 4,577. He finished third in passer rating, third in passing touchdowns, tied for fourth in yards per attempt, and fifth in completion pct.
Because Brady accomplished all of his 2018 incentives in 2017, they are designated as “likely to be earned,” which means they count against the 2018 cap for the Patriots. But as Yates noted, because $10 million of his salary was converted into a signing bonus, his cap number for 2018 remains unchanged at $22 million. His 2019 hit jumped to $27 million. So his incentives essentially function as if they’re not likely to be earned.
As Bill Belichick famously once said, the cap can be maneuvered in a number of different ways.
Still, for whatever reason, the Patriots wanted to maintain their cap flexibility for 2018. That could mean that tight end Rob Gronkowski could get some incentives of his own, mirroring Brady’s reworked deal and continuing the trend of last season, when Gronk hit all of his benchmarks to become the highest-paid tight end in the league.
Gronkowski would only need about $4.4 million added to his deal for 2018 in order to surpass the expected cash earnings for Jimmy Graham, who signed a three-year deal with the Green Bay Packers that will pay him $13.25 million in 2018. According to the Boston Sports Journal’s Miguel Benzan, a.k.a. @PatsCap on Twitter, the Pats have just over $7.4 million in space. So, some incentives for Gronk should certainly be doable.
Cap maneuvering tends to get convoluted, so let’s boil it down to this: the Patriots’ cap doesn’t change this season, and Brady gets to earn up to an extra $5 million in real money. The discussion may center around why Brady’s pay-bump needs to be earned rather than guaranteed, beyond just the cap implications.
It could simply be the result of a negotiation between two sides, and the opportunity is there for both Brady and the team to end up extremely happy.
Note: This story was updated to accurately reflect the reports on Brady’s contract. His incentives are capped at $5 million; he cannot earn more than that, even if he hits all five incentives and wins the Super Bowl.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.