Tom Brady is the best quarterback in NFL history — but he wasn't been paid like it during his 20-year tenure with the New England Patriots. Here, we'll take a look at all of Brady's Patriots contracts, from the time he was an unheralded sixth-round pick to a six-time Super Bowl champion.
Deal: 3 years, $864,000
Signing Bonus: $38,400
As the 199th overall pick in the 2000 draft, Brady’s deal was commensurately modest. By comparison — and as an indicator of how the game has grown in 19 seasons — the 199th pick in 2019 was defensive end Gerri Green.
His deal is four years and $2.52M. His signing bonus is $157,608. His rookie salary is $495K. Brady’s was $193K.
Brady wouldn’t see the end of that rookie deal, as it was redone in August of 2002 after he guided the Patriots to their first Super Bowl win at the end of the 2001 season.
Deal: 5 years, $30.52M
Signing Bonus: $10M
In the last week of August of 2002, Brady got a new deal that would take him through 2006. As part of that deal, Brady would receive $250K for every AFC Championship win and $250K for every Super Bowl win. He’d realize $1M from those incentives thanks to the 2003 and 2004 seasons. He kept his initial 2002 salary of $375K, but the salaries jumped to $3.1M, $5.5M, $5.5M and $6M from 2003 through 2006. The Patriots tinkered with the deal in 2003 and 2004 to grab more cap space and dumped money forward so his cap charges in ‘05 and ’06 were slated to be $10M and $14M.
Lucrative though that may have seemed for a player that had started just 14 regular-season games, Drew Bledsoe’s deal with the Patriots signed just 18 months prior was for 10 years and $103M. So Brady was a bargain.
Deal: 6 years, $60M
Signing Bonus: $26.5M ($14.5 signing bonus, $12M roster bonus in 2006)
This deal, which was slated to take Brady through the 2010 season, got contentious. It was signed on May 4, but the hangup and haggling began in late February. At issue? The Patriots wanted to pay Brady his proposed $24 million signing bonus in four installments. More than half of the bonus money would come in the first two years of the deal, but unpaid bonus money in the later years of the contract would not be guaranteed, meaning if Brady were injured and couldn’t keep playing, portions of the $24 M bonus would never be realized.
Writing in March of 2005 for the Providence Journal I noted that, “At this point, the negotiations aren't quite acrimonious. But Brady isn't blind to the fact he's willing to meet the Patriots halfway on salary but is not being met halfway on the bonus.” Peyton Manning at the time was on a seven-year, $98M deal he signed in 2004 that had $34.5M guaranteed.
Deal: 4-year, $72M extension
Signing Bonus: $48.5M guaranteed
It took a car accident to push this deal over the finish line. With uncertainty because of a looming uncapped year in 2011, the Patriots and Brady worked hard to get a deal done prior to the start of the 2010 regular season when Brady would enter his walk year. A Thursday morning car accident caused Robert Kraft to consider the fragility of things and decide to get the deal done. The four years and $72M were for the 2011 through 2014 seasons and it had a record amount of guaranteed money and was the biggest contract in NFL history (briefly).
The deal was announced at halftime of the Thursday night season opener on NBC by Peter King. After the deal was complete, Kraft said, "You’re never sure (when the deal will get finished) because it’s hard. You’ve got two sides. You’ve got agents, but everyone’s trying to help, but it gets complicated, but now, please God, he’ll be the quarterback here for 15 years. which is unusual." The day after Brady signed the deal, Bill Belichick said at his morning press conference, “There is no quarterback I’d rather have than Tom Brady.”
Deal: 3-year, $27M extension
Guaranteed Money: $33M
After an MVP season in 2010, a Super Bowl trip in 2011 and a trip to the AFC Championship in 2012, Brady reworked and extended his deal just before the 2013 league year began. He gave the Patriots a huge financial break in agreeing to the three-year, $27M extension. The agreement saved the Patriots $8M in cap room in 2013 and $7M in cap room in 2014. Brady’s hope at the time was the team would re-sign Wes Welker, who was on the verge of free agency. Instead, Welker wanted to test the market and the Patriots signed Danny Amendola. Still, Brady’s deal gave the Patriots huge cap flexibility. His salaries from 2015 through 2017 were $13M, $14M and $15M. Including 2013 and 2014 — which he was already under agreement for — the deal’s maximum value was $57M over five years with $33M guaranteed.
“I was just trying to stay ahead of the curve," said Robert Kraft at the time. "If we were going to have to pay him elite-quarterback money and have elite-quarterback cap numbers, I just didn't think we would be able to build a team. We don't want to have a team where we're paying 18 to 20 percent to a player on the cap. I wanted to do something elegant that would work for everybody. I had been talking to him off and on for maybe 18 months, about how I wanted him to finish his career here, and about how we both have to be smart about it. I just really want him to end his career a Patriot.”
Deal: 2-year, $41M extension
Signing Bonus: $28M
In March 2016, a little less than two years after Bill Belichick pointed out Brady’s age and contract status on the night Jimmy Garoppolo was drafted, Brady signed a two-year extension to take him through the 2019 season. The deal tacked on the 2018 and 2019 seasons but the Patriots covered themselves when the deal was done. The Patriots had $1M team options prior to the 2018 and 2019 seasons which gave them an out if Garoppolo unseated Brady. He didn’t. And he was dealt at the trade deadline in October 2017. The thinking at the time was that Brady didn’t want to rock the boat — and was leery of Jimmy G. — so he did another team-friendly deal.
Deal: 1 year, $23M
Signing Bonus: $8M
With his deal set to expire at the end of the 2019 season, Brady had to wait for the Patriots to get around to figuring out an offer. It finally started to come together in July but the eventual result was anything but a boon for Brady. The Patriots merely took his $14M salary for 2019, turned that into $1.75M for 2019 and then converted that money into a signing bonus of $20M that the team could divvy up the $20M in three equal prorated portions for 2020 and 2021 seasons. The Patriots got to holler “extension” without giving Brady a true one. Brady — who had gone nearly a decade without being paid as an elite player — pushed for a clause that prevented the team from putting the franchise or transition tag on him.