Just for the record, Jason Licht confirmed exactly where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stand on the matter of extending Tom Brady’s contract.
“We would love to have Tom play here — and I can speak for Bruce (Arians), I think — as long as he continues to want to play,” the Bucs GM said during a media video conference this week, when asked about a new deal for TB12. “If that comes to fruition at some point, then we’d be elated.”
Yeah, probably even more elated than they were last March when Brady, 43, chose the Bucs and took a two-year, $50 million deal.
We see how that turned out.
Now Licht — who even before the playoffs began got at least one vote for NFL executive of the year (mine) because of the series of moves that complemented the big score of landing Brady — is charged to lead the Bucs down the path of an NFL version of throwing more good money at good money.
Talk about good fortune. The added value that Brady brings — on top of precision quarterbacking, change-the-culture leadership and Bucs-on-the-map relevance that increases the franchise’s bottom-line worth immensely — is his willingness to sign under-market deals that helps in keeping talent around him.
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Tom Brady has seven Super Bowl titles. (Photo: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)
In other words, Brady’s next deal will not come with headlines screaming about record-breaking numbers.
Look at his history. With the salary cap cloud above, Brady has never been the one to try to break the bank. In his last MVP year, 2017, the dude had a base salary of $1 million. In 2008 and 2009, following the first of three MVP awards, the cap figures were in the $8 million range. Sure, there have been hefty signing bonuses along the way — but not as hefty as he could have commanded. But more significant was his repeated contract restructuring that gave the Patriots cap-operating room.
No doubt, the same is about to happen here as Brady and his agent, Don Yee, work through some new financial details.
The Bucs, with the fresh Super Bowl trophy earned during the franchise’s first playoff berth in 13 years, can certainly use more wiggle room in keeping significant talent in the house.
Check out the Bucs slated to potentially hit the free agent market: Chris Godwin. Shaquil Barrett. Lavonte David. Gronk. Antonio Brown. Ndamukong Suh (again). Leonard Fournette … or as it’s purely cool to call him, “Playoff Lenny.”
Godwin, the star receiver, is an especially intriguing case. At 24, he is likely just approaching his prime and would command a whale of a deal on the open market. He’s also primed to draw the franchise tag, which means an extended dance could loom if the Bucs lock him up for the long term.
Given the often-fleeting nature of financial leverage (and careers) for NFL players, Godwin knows all about the strike-when-you’re-hot realities of the football business. During an appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show," Godwin expressed the need to consider what’s best for himself and his family. Generational wealth is nothing to sneeze at.
“The goal obviously is to get paid, right?” Godwin told McAfee. “But at the same time, I’m not stupid. I’m not going to put myself in a situation where I’m going to be miserable … for just a couple extra dollars.”
According to Spotrac.com, the Bucs are a bit more than $24 million under the projected NFL salary cap of $185 million — and that’s even with Brady currently counting for about 15% of the cap with a cap hit of $28.375 million. Brady had a $15 million base salary with a $10 million roster bonus for 2020, then hit on several team-centric postseason incentives that included winning the Super Bowl, on top of hitting individual incentives for passing yards and touchdowns.
Now what? Brady, who has often maintained that he wants to play until he’s 45 or beyond, is poised to help the Bucs keep winning with salary cap moves.
On a landscape where the top nine average NFL salaries belong to quarterbacks, averaging at least $30 million a year (led by Patrick Mahomes’ $45 million figure and the $39 million average for Deshaun Watson), Brady is tied with Drew Brees for the 13th-highest average ($25 million). An extension might not change Brady’s status on the average salary pecking order much, but that’s not the point.
Brady has made his money and won all those Super Bowl rings (seven), stuff that would help any of us love such a career.
This is about keeping the winning flowing to the last drop.
Follow Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.
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