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Tom Brady’s new deal likely has big bonus, lower base salaries at first

Green Bay Packers v New England Patriots

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When it comes to his contract, Tom Brady is anything but free. But he’s still not likely at the top of the market.

Although the contract between Brady and the Patriots has not yet been filed with the NFL or the NFL Players Association (indeed, there’s a chance it hasn’t even been reduced to writing yet), here are some semi-educated predictions about what the final numbers will look like.

First, there will be another large signing bonus, similar to the $30 million signing bonus Brady received three years ago.

Second, the salaries for 2016 and 2017 will drop significantly from the current levels of $9 million and $10 million, respectively. The 2016 salary could be as low as $985,000, which would (as previously noted) drop Brady’s financial exposure on a four-game #Deflategate suspension from $2.11 million to $231,000. With the signing bonus allocation offsetting the salary reduction, the Patriots likely will realize some cap space in each of the next two years.

Third, the signing bonus allocation (which will be divided by four) will make the cap numbers higher in the two new years. But the salary cap could be closing in on $180 million by then, making today’s high-water cap numbers of $20 million far more manageable, especially for the most important position on the field.

The real question is whether Brady will play each of the next four years. He believes he will. If he does, the Patriots hold his rights through the end of the decade.