What does Tom Brady's contract extension really mean?
To clarify, Tom Brady isn't really losing any money. In fact, the money that he was supposed to get for the next two years is still coming to him. The only difference now is that it's guaranteed.
Brady is still taking home a ton of money. His wife Gisele is the highest paid supermodel on the planet, and makes far more than Brady makes for playing football. He's not only one of the primary endorsers for Under Armour, he's also a big-time shareholder in the fastest-growing athletic apparel company in the US.
He's also a shareholder in Uggs, another company that does pretty well, in case you haven't noticed the thousands of women walking around every day wearing those insufferably hideous (but apparently comfortable) Uggs boots.
Those aren't the only deals that Brady has. You've probably seen the Dodge Dart commercial featuring the Patriots QB, and everyone has seen his Stetson cologne ads.
Brady knows that his earning power is far more than any of his teammates off the field. He also knows that he'll be financially set for the future, thanks to the various shrewd decisions that he has made with his sponsors, acquiring company shares instead of cash.
In the end, Brady doesn't deserve to be considered a martyr, since he's really not making that much of a sacrifice.
That having been said, his contract is far less than market value. This will not only affect future contracts, it could also change the way we look at other players in the future.
In the short-term future, this affects guys like Joe Flacco. He's vying for a new contract from the Ravens right now. His agent claims that Brady's contract has no impact on Flacco's negotiations, but that is simply not plausible. At the very least, Flacco's exclusive franchise tender is decreased by $800,000. Even if Flacco gets a larger long-term deal, there's no denying that Brady's deal will have at least SOME impact on Flacco's negotiations.
This isn't the first time that Brady has accepted far less than market value, with the intention of allowing the Patriots to invest those savings into other players around him. He did the same in 2006, when he allowed the team to tweak his contract and make it more cap-friendly. Also, he has been vastly underpaid his entire career, and has never complained once. If anything, he has offered further restructuring to get him even less money.
What would have happened if someone like Peyton Manning were willing to do the same?
Of course, Manning will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. The one knock against him is that he has only won one Super Bowl.
Could Manning have won more Super Bowls in his career if he had taken an approach more similar to Brady, and tried to give the Colts more financial flexibility to boost the team around him? Peyton is another guy who has no shortage of endorsement money, and will always be financially secure. Why couldn't he have done the same, and give the Colts a better chance to win?
Even when Manning was coming off four neck surgeries, he went shopping around to find the team that would give him the best deal. Sure, he picked the Broncos, who also had a pretty good team around him, showing that he wanted to win. But what if Manning had turned down their 5-year, $96M deal and asked for a more Brady-like deal of around 3 years and $27M?
Would those extra dollars have given the Broncos the opportunity to get another few good players that might have put them over the edge and allowed them to beat the Ravens?
Could the Broncos have acquired some additional help in the secondary to help Champ Bailey and Rahim Moore, who got burned the entire game? Most likely yes, they could have... IF Manning had accepted less money from the Broncos.
To be fair, there's nothing wrong with players seeking the most money possible when they're signing their deals. That's what Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke did, and he has no problem admitting it. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. That's exactly what 99% of us would do, and no one could possibly blame anyone for it.
But that's why Brady isn't like the rest of us.
He has money, and he cares about money. That's why he has himself set up remarkably well for the future. But there's one thing that he cares about more than anything else, and that's winning.
When given the opportunity to acquire even more money, Brady has once again chosen the opportunity to win over the chance for even more riches. We'll see if it pans out, and we'll see how the Patriots spend the money that they cleared under the salary cap with this deal.
If Brady has anything to say about it, this will put them over the top and give them a chance to win his 4th Super Bowl. And ironically, in the long run, that could be the most profitable thing that Brady ever does.