The New England Patriots and their fans have to feel good about the fact they have one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. And at the age of 41, Tom Brady has continued to play at a high level while being worth every penny of his contract. But there is one problem, and it has to do with the future Hall-of-Famer’s current deal and a key decision that’s looming.
Brady’s contract runs through the 2019 NFL season and was modified prior to the current year with additional performance-based incentives. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter revealed, there was up to $5 million added as a way to get the quarterback’s contract more up to par with other quarterbacks.
Let’s take a look at how Brady’s contract lays out for both the 2018 and 2019 seasons and then evaluate the Patriots’ outlook beyond that, which is where the concern comes in.
Breaking Down Tom Brady’s Contract
*Note: All contract details and information courtesy of Spotrac.
|Year||Age||Base Salary||Total Bonuses||Cap Hit|
The $5 million in incentives which Brady had added to his contract this year were qualified as “likely to be earned,” or “LTBE,” meaning they get added to the salary cap. This was broken down into five different $1 million bonuses and are included in the above $18 million for total bonuses.
Brady’s five performance-based incentives included the following, per Spotrac:
- Top 5 in passer rating
- Top 5 in completion percentage
- Top 5 in yards per attempt
- Top 5 in touchdown passes
- Top 5 in passing yards
Interestingly, Brady didn’t hit any of these marks so he won’t earn the bonuses for this season. As The Football Educator details, any bonuses that are not achieved in a season results in the team getting a credit back that goes towards the following season’s salary cap number.
The Patriots quarterback’s contract structure for 2019 does not include these same types of bonuses. His additional bonuses next year are made up of a $7 million signing bonus, $5 million restructure bonus and $1 million roster bonus. Even with Brady under contract for one more season, the Patriots now have a big decision to make on the future of their franchise, and it’ll have to come sooner than later.
Patriots’ Tough Looming Decision on Tom Brady
While Brady does have the 2019 season left on his current deal, he’s currently set to be an unrestricted free agent following the year. At that point, the five-time Super Bowl champion will be 43 years old and may be left to decide whether he wants to retire or continue his NFL career. If that does happen, the Patriots will have to decide whether to offer Brady a big short term deal or begin transitioning to their future quarterback.
The problem is that New England doesn’t currently have a clear-cut answer on who will replace Brady. The original hope was that Jimmy Garoppolo could be the answer, but with Brady playing at a high level consistently through his late 30’s and into his 40’s, they traded him before his time for an extension came.
On the Patriots’ current roster, they have veteran Brian Hoyer and rookie Danny Etling out of LSU. After Etling’s career began with the Purdue Boilermakers, he opted to transfer to LSU, where he started during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Over his time with the Tigers, the 6-foot-3 quarterback threw for 4,586 yards with 27 touchdowns while tossing seven interceptions. He also tacked on three rushing scores.