NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport confirmed Monday that Brady has removed the "skill" guarantee in his contract, according to a source that has seen Brady's deal. Brady's contract remains fully guaranteed for injury. ESPN first reported the story.
Under the new contract, the Patriots will free up $24 million in cash flow. It does not impact the Patriots' salary cap situation. The change means that Brady could theoretically be released in the future for performance issues, and they wouldn't owe him any more money. (This is true of the vast majority of players. And considering he's vastly underpaid, there's no reason to think the Patriots will be cutting Brady any time soon.)
The move was intended to help the Patriots spend money on free agents and keep veterans. Brady, 37, doesn't give away any salary in the restructure. In fact, Brady will get a raise of $1 million annually. The quarterback will now earn $8 million in 2015, $9 million in 2016 and $10 million in 2017, per ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss.
The 12-4 Patriots are coming off their sixth-consecutive AFC East title and will have a bye on the first weekend of the playoffs. The Patriots have several key players set for free agency, a list that includes Darrelle Revis, Nate Solder, Devin McCourty and Shane Vereen.
Brady previously restructured his contract in 2012, a move that created $7.2 million in salary cap space. In February 2013, Brady signed a team-friendly three-year extension. A Patriots source told NFL Media's Albert Breer at the time that the extension created "well over" $30 million in salary-cap space over 2013 and 2014.
The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Week 17 game and debates the MVP race between Aaron Rodgers and J.J. Watt. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.