When Tom Brady signed a New England Patriots-friendly contract extension last week, skeptics said there had to be some sort of side agreement.
Owner Robert Kraft disputed that belief in an interview with Sports Illustrated's Peter King.
"This is a real deal," Kraft said. "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."
Kraft said he'd been thinking the last several years about an extension to keep Brady in a Patriots uniform for the remainder of his career.
"I was probably wearing my fan hat as much as anything else," he told King. "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."
The reasoning behind a contract that gave Brady some security with guaranteed money, but comically below the market value in the final two years, was an effort, as Kraft said, to keep a competitive team on the field during Brady's final years.
"I was just trying to stay ahead of the curve," Kraft said. "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.''
And for those who still don't believe that Brady's contract will be ripped up and redone again before it's all said and done?
"These people don't know the relationship between Tommy and this team,'' Kraft said. "Maybe they hate the Patriots, or they're jealous. I understand the naysayers are out there, but we want to build a team capable of winning every year, and while this is not perfect in every way, we think this will help us get there."
Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.