Tom Brady doesn’t want to talk about how his new contract, but New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft does.
He explained to Peter King of Sports Illustrated that the idea of a contract extension to help ensure that Brady retired with the Patriots was hatched about five weeks ago, on a six-hour flight to Los Angeles.
“I was probably wearing my fan hat as much as anything else,” Kraft said. “I just didn’t want to ever see this become like Joe Montana leaving San Francisco, Emmitt Smith leaving Dallas, Brett Favre leaving Green Bay, Peyton Manning leaving Indianapolis. If Tom Brady played out this current contract and left us, there was no doubt in my mind that someone out there would pay him top dollar, and they should, for his ability, his leadership and his unselfishness.
“I was just trying to stay ahead of the curve. If we were going to have to pay him elite-quarterback money and have elite-quarterback cap numbers, I just didn’t think we would be able to build a team. We don’t want to have a team where we’re paying 18 to 20 percent to a player on the cap. I wanted to do something elegant that would work for everybody. I had been talking to him off and on for maybe 18 months about how I wanted him to finish his career here, and about how we both have to be smart about it. I just really want him to end his career a Patriot.”
Brady now he has a contract that runs through 2017 and averages a below-market $9 million per season (but includes $57 million guaranteed). During that Boston-to-LA flight, Kraft told King that he presented “an idea to him that I thought could work for both sides.”
“We’re taking a chance making this commitment, and he’s taking one, in terms of his ability to maximize pay. I just thought if winning is the most important thing to him, and I think it is, and it certainly is to our family, this gives us the best chance to win. Hopefully we have an elite quarterback that, even if his skills decline even a little bit, he’ll still be better than 90 percent of the quarterbacks in the league. And his legacy — I already believe he’s the greatest of all time — if we win one or two more, he can solidify that.”
And Kraft said that this is not a faux deal that will be redone in 2015.
“No, no, no,” Kraft said. “This is a real deal. Look at our track record. We don’t do fake deals. The contract we have with Tom Brady is a real contract we will both live by.”