As reported by Sports Illustrated’s Peter King at halftime of last night’s telecast, Tom Brady will sign an extension today worth $72 million over 4 seasons, with $48.5 million guaranteed. Is he worth it? I know that some will say yes solely because of the three rings, but you get paid in the NFL based on what you will do over the life of the contract, not on what you did before you signed the extension.
Last month, when Sam Bradford signed his contract with $50 million guaranteed, I wrote a post at the pro-football-reference blog comparing Bradford comparables (young highly drafted quarterbacks in first six seasons) with Brady comparables (above average quarterbacks from age 28-32). The basic upshot is that the Brady comps were worth a little more, but not significantly so.
As you might easily guess, the Brady comparables were better early, while the Bradford comps (even including the busts) were better later in the six-year period, when many of the Brady comps had retired. We may be spoiled by Brett Favre in thinking that 40 is the new 30 for quarterbacks, but half of the Brady comps were done as full-time starters at or before age 36, including guys like Dan Fouts, Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman and Jim Kelly.
The Patriots probably looked at similar information, because they did not give Brady a longer deal that would have pushed him to age 37. When Favre and Warner received over $15 million to play for another season recently, and with the league revenues continuing to expand the pie, I think we can say teams are willing to pay between $16- 20 million, right now, for a pretty good chance at an above average quarterback for a year.
Thus, I think with the guaranteed money, the Patriots basically bought the next two seasons for Brady as a starter expecting him to still be very good through age 34, and paid for a third season at age 35 where he doesn’t have to be elite to justify the remainder of the guaranteed money. (70% of his comps were still above average at age 33; 55% were above average at age 34, while it dropped to 41% at age 35 and only 14% at age 36).
I believe this contract allows the Patriots to re-evaluate whether he gets to the end of the contract and gets the full $72 million based on how he plays at age 35, while the teams still pays an expensive, but fair, price for a star quarterback entering his mid-thirties with the guaranteed money now.
And, from a public relations standpoint, there was no way they could have let him get to the end of this year without a contract extension of some type. [Photo via Getty]