By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Tom Brady reportedly signed a two-year extension with the Patriots over the weekend - but only in a technical sense. In reality, he's getting a raise for 2019. After that? We'll see.
New details have emerged on Brady's deal via Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. The "extension" reportedly includes a provision that the Patriots cannot apply the franchise tag or transition tag to him for the 2020 league year. Instead, the final two years of Brady's extension would be voided at the end of the 2019 league year, and Brady would become a free agent.
In essence, the two extra years and $70 million in new money is just on paper in order for the Patriots to create cap space. They've ostensibly gained an additional $5.5 million for 2019.
Hard to believe that Brady would become a "real" free agent - that is, shop around for other teams next offseason. It's unlikely he'd find a team with a good-enough roster around him, that would either pay him top-of-the-market money or convince him to take less, which would offer more than the Patriots.
Asked on Monday whether he's relieved to have a new contract, Brady said: "It is what it is. That's a good line. Whoever said it, it's very pertinent. Like I said, there's a lot of guys who have one year left on their contract. I've got one year to go and we'll see what happens."
It's time to prepare for the distinct possibility that 2019 will be Brady's final season, whether he retires or actually decides to play elsewhere. If it isn't, then they'll be going through this whole same song and dance all over again a year from now.
Would the Patriots dare Brady to test the free agent waters? It sounds like they're preparing to do that, and it wouldn't be the first time. To do that with the quarterback and the greatest one to ever play, without a realistic successor in place yet, is about as massive of a risk as you can take in the NFL.
But at the same time, Brady has long said how much he loves the Patriots. As soon as Monday.
"Yeah, like I said the last time, we've just had a great history. I love playing quarterback here. I love this team, this organization, Mr. [Robert] Kraft, Jonathan [Kraft], Coach [Bill] Belichick, all of the coaches, all of the players," Brady said. "The focus is this year and what we've got to do. That's where I'm focused. That's all that really matters in the end. That's what this team expects of me, to put everything into it, like I always have and I'm really excited for the year."
Key word "year". Just one year. The rest is uncertain. And that may be how it goes for the remainder of Brady's career, however long it lasts and wherever it unfolds.
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 [email protected].