For his 42nd birthday, Tom Brady received a special gift from the New England Patriots: a long-awaited contract extension.
The future Hall of Fame quarterback agreed to terms on a two-year, $70 million contract extension with New England on Sunday, a source told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. The deal raises Brady's 2019 salary from $15 million to $23 million. Brady is then scheduled to make $30 million in 2020 and $32 million in 2021, though both Brady and New England are "amenable" to adjusting the numbers if necessary, Rapoport added.
Already in uncharted territory, Brady is now under contract through 2021, his age-44 season. The quarterback has insisted for years that he would like to play until he's at least 45 years old. This deal keeps that goal still in the realm of possibility.
Brady was set to enter the final season of a two-year restructured deal agreed to last August before he struck an extension with the Pats this weekend. Brady was scheduled to make $15 million and carry a $27 million cap hit in 2019. The Patriots QB has still never entered a season in the final year of his deal.
The six-time Super Bowl champion was never at risk of entering the 2019 season without assurances past this campaign. Striking a deal was a matter of when not if. Brady and the Pats came to agreement on Aug. 4, nearly one year to the day when they agreed to a restructured deal in 2018 (Aug. 10), so a contract adjustment like this was not unprecedented.
Brady appeared calmly confident this week when asked whether he deserved a contract extension, joking to reporters, "Have I earned [an extension]? I don't know. That's up for talk show debate. What do you guys think? Should we take a poll?"
There's no denying Brady deserved assurances from the Patriots past this season, but negotiating extensions for players of his age is not an exact science. The QB's ability to play into his 40s at an MVP level is unprecedented, and New England does not have a succession plan yet.
Brady's play has barely taken a dip. After his 2017 MVP campaign, the Patriots QB got off to a slow start but finished with 4,355 yards, 29 touchdowns, 11 picks and, most importantly, one Lombardi trophy.
However, there's no telling when a quarterback, even one as limber as Brady, will see a dropoff in ability. Peyton Manning's skill memorably fell off a cliff during Denver's 2015 Super Bowl season before the Broncos QB announced his retirement. The difference: Manning had myriad injury issues, while Brady has stayed relatively healthy since he tore his ACL in 2008.
Most important in Brady's extension might be the flexibility. The sides' reported willingness to revisit Brady's contract after every season allows for the two to tinker with his salary and bonuses, as they see fit.
Through thick and thin, Brady and New England have demonstrated a strong and unique working relationship. The historic success this century of both the quarterback and franchise are inextricably linked. Sunday's news confirmed that will remain the case until at least 2021.