By Nick O’Malley/MassLive.com (TNS)
The Detroit Lions handed out the biggest contract extension in NFL history Monday night, inking quarterback Matthew Stafford to a five-year, $135mn contract that will kick in next season. His $60.5mn in guaranteed money is also a record.
It’s the latest financial precedent set by an NFL team looking to lock down a franchise quarterback on a long-term deal.
Still, as the mantle of “Highest Paid of All-Time” goes around the NFL, it’s stayed away from the shoulders of the guy who’s been dubbed the “Greatest of All Time”.
Tom Brady will account for a $14mn cap hit for the New England Patriots in 2017 — an absolute bargain. Then he’s set to make an average of $20.5mn over the next two seasons. According to Spotrac, there are 14 players who are currently making more than that per season.
Brady gets paid — and well. However, he’s never really stuck it to the Patriots in contract negotiations. The Patriots’ last 18 years of success have been built around Brady, and he’s still playing at an MVP level. If anyone could break the bank for a contract, it’s him.
Still, it’s not Brady who’s making headlines for monster contract. It’s guys like Stafford, Derek Carr and Andrew Luck.
The Indianapolis Colts committed $122.9mn to Luck over five seasons while the Oakland Raiders ponied up $125mn over that same time frame.
Between the three of them, Carr, Luck and Stafford have a total of three playoff wins — all belonging to Luck.
So why are they getting bigger paydays than Brady? For one, the Lions, Colts and Raiders are all paying marking rates for quarterbacks who are just about to enter their prime. The ceilings on those players (particularly Luck and Carr at their age) are high, and there’s nothing more valuable in the NFL than a franchise quarterback.
So why not Brady? In short: Because he doesn’t want it.
Brady’s clearly made it a priority to stay with the Patriots, and has made efforts to make his deals more team-friendly, giving them a little more resources under the cap to make the team better around him.
Part of the reason he can do that is because Brady isn’t even the top earner in his household. In 2016, Gisele Bundchen reportedly brought in $30.5mn.
Brady’s track record is the NFL’s best. While he doesn’t have the clear five-year outlook that younger players have, he certainly has the leverage to push the Patriots for more. Instead, he’s given the Patriots flexibility to retain and acquire more talent year-in, year-out by remaining one of the NFL’s best bargains (comparatively).
The QB money train isn’t stopping in the NFL any time soon. As long as the game remains centred around quarterbacks, they’ll remain in the stratosphere in terms of earnings.
The real issue for the Patriots isn’t Brady’s outlook. It’s that of Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s entering his mid-20s and the end of his rookie deal.
Even if Garoppolo can’t currently generate the earning potential of guys like Luck and Carr, he is certainly in Mike Glennon range. If the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback can get a three-year, $45mn contract with the Chicago Bears, then Garoppolo can certainly get in that same range.
All that remains for him is to actually get on the field and prove whether he can actually play. While the Patriots certainly seem to want to keep Garoppolo around as the heir apparent, it won’t be cheap (and potentially unmanageable).
Not with what the rest of the NFL is paying.
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