Tom Brady contract 'extension' is smart but risky business for Patriots

Tom Brady contract 'extension' is smart but risky business for Patriots

Play along with me for a second.

Imagine I’ve been washing your car every week for years. I’m the best car washer in the business. I leave your car sparkling outside. On the inside? You could eat off the floormats.

I give you a good deal on it. Just $50. You know that’s a killer rate. You know you can count on me to do it for less than most. You appreciate it. You make me feel like family.

I know you could pay me more. I know guys who don’t clean as well as I do get paid a LOT more. But we go back a long time and I like everything about our relationship. I have fun washing your car. But that $50? I feel a little taken advantage of.

So I tell you I want $75 and assurances I’ll get a month’s worth of your business in return for my top-notch work at that same rate. 

You say, “How about $60? And I’ll think about giving you $500 for the next two washes. But after you wash it for $60 we’ll talk again and figure a fair rate.”

I’m not too fired up about that but, hell, I’m here. I got my bucket and my sponge. And $60 is more than $50. So I’ll wash your car. But I find myself saying under my breath, “I don’t know why it has to be this hard every single time. One of these days, I'm not going to wash it. See how they like that.”

Our fictional car-washing agreement is — as you probably figured — a clumsy comparison to the relationship between Tom Brady and the Patriots.

But since word of Brady’s 2019 pay raise became public on Sunday, it’s been ballyhooed as a warm agreement for Brady's services this year and into the future.

It’s not. It’s just a raise. And a fairly modest one at that.

Why did Brady take it? Because, in the end, he loves playing football for the New England Patriots. He loves what they’ve built, loves his teammates and, yes, loves the head coach and the owner. Folding his arms and refusing to play? That’s not him. The competition is more important than the money. The legacy is more important than the money. But the money is not wholly unimportant to him.

So please, strike the mental image of Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft skipping down the road hand-in-hand after this “extension” was agreed to. Even if that’s the image the Patriots prefer the public have, especially with the $30M and $32M placeholder salaries for 2020 and 2021 included as garnishing.

It's not hard to figure the Patriots' approach here. 

Belichick doesn’t want to listen to agitations all year about Brady being in his “walk year.” It’s annoying, distracting and feeds a negative perception of how the team does business.

The main benefit to the “extension” for Belichick was the opportunity to lower Brady’s 2019 cap hit and give the team flexibility this year. By penciling in voidable salaries, he avoids marrying the team to a pay rate for 43-year-old Tom Brady until he sees how 42-year-old Tom Brady looks.

That’s his job so there’s nothing wrong with him doing it.

Meanwhile, the Patriots aren’t valued at nearly $4B because Kraft makes emotional decisions. We all know that, if push ever comes to shove, Brady playing in another city on Kraft’s watch has as much chance of happening as the Patriots in Hartford.

But Kraft is also going to do all he can to avoid putting the Patriots in a financial position similar to the one the Saints have gotten themselves in with Drew Brees. Every time Brees has renegotiated and extended, he’s gotten guaranteed money as well.

So now Brees’ cap hit for 2020 is $21.3M. And that’s before he even agrees to play for them next year since Brees — like Brady — is “year-to-year” and 2020 is a voidable year. If the Saints pay Brees $25M next year, his cap hit will be $46M. It’s insane. It’s bad business. And the Patriots weren’t going to do it.

Which brings us to Brady, who is now holding an interesting hand.

The Patriots can’t franchise him next February since they have agreed to that voidable year. He doesn’t want to go anywhere else, but he’s never experienced professionally autonomy either and he actually has it.

So when the Patriots come to him after a season in which Brady — surrounded by a mostly unimposing collection of receivers — fails to tear it up statistically, they won’t be starting near $30M with their 2020 salary offer. They probably won’t even be looking to give him a raise from $23M for his 43-year-old season.

And if a standoff ensues? The Patriots will have to void Brady’s deal and make him a free agent or pay him the $30M. Imagine a Tom Brady Free Agent Tour?

The Patriots keep calling Brady’s bluff and every time he’s thrown down his cards. This time, though, he’s got a better hand than the Patriots in terms of being able to say, “Pay me or I’m leaving.”

Again, the likelihood of that happening is remote. But the Patriots didn’t lock Brady down with this “extension.” They actually opened the door for him to go through. And that’s an outcome nobody wants to see.

Where Brady ranks among highest-paid NFL QBs>>>>>

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Patriots' Stephon Gilmore tops off two-INT performance with perfect tweet

Patriots' Stephon Gilmore tops off two-INT performance with perfect tweet

Stephon Gilmore continues to make a strong case for 2019 NFL Defensive Player Of the Year honors.

The New England Patriots cornerback tallied his fifth and sixth interceptions of the season during Sunday's win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The second was a pick-six in the third quarter that extended the Pats lead to 17.

After his sensational performance, Gilmore shared the highlight of his pick-six and topped it off with a perfect tweet:

Hard to disagree. In fact, Gilmore's teammates will tell you the same thing. . .

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As great of a day as it was for Gilmore, the Patriots' lockdown corner believes it could have been even better. He wasn't satisfied with contributing "only" two of New England's four INTs.

"I should have had three. I should have had four," Gilmore said after the game.

The Patriots will gladly take the two, which helped them improve to 11-3 on the season and clinch their 11th straight playoff berth.

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Patriots QB Tom Brady praises N'Keal Harry for rookie's touchdown catch

Patriots QB Tom Brady praises N'Keal Harry for rookie's touchdown catch

New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry caught two passes from quarterback Tom Brady in Sunday's Week 15 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, and one of those receptions played a critical role in the defending champs blowing the game open in the second half.

The Patriots had good field position on their first drive of the third quarter thanks to an interception by veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore. After driving down to the 7-yard line, Brady and the offense faced a 3rd-and-goal situation. Brady took the snap, went through his reads and couldn't find an open target. The Patriots offensive line provided great protection, and Brady finally fired a pass into the back of the end zone, where Harry made a fantastic diving play to haul in his second touchdown catch of the season. The score put New England up 20-10.

"It was a good play by (Harry)," Brady told reporters after his team's 34-13 victory at Paul Brown Stadium. "He adjusted his route, and then came back and found some space. It was a good play. We needed it."

Brady likes the work ethic Harry is showing in an effort to improve as much as possible as the playoffs near.

"He's fighting. He's working hard every week to learn," Brady said. "He's a very hard-working guy. It's fun to see him make those plays."

Harry also ran the ball twice for 22 yards, showing his versatility as someone who can be a threat in the passing attack and also make plays in the run game.

The rookie wideout played 40 snaps Sunday after only playing only two in last week's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Patriots gave Harry more responsibility and he responded well. Giving Harry even more of an opportunity to make plays over the final two weeks of the regular season will best prepare him to make a positive impact when the Patriots need it most in the playoffs.

Patriots vs. Bengals Analysis: Instant Overreactions from Week 15 win>>>