NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Brady's new deal, which bumped the New England Patriots quarterback's salary for 2019 to $23 million, includes two years that automatically void on the final day of the 2019 league year (March 17, 2020).
Teams often use voidable years on contracts for salary-cap purposes to spread out the hit. This is this first time the Patriots have utilized such a salary-cap mechanism, Rapoport added.
Rapoport also noted that Brady's new deal includes a provision that does not allow New England to franchise or transition tag him for the 2020 season.
This all means, that even if for only a brief moment in March of 2020, Tom Brady, the GOAT, will be a free agent -- unless he retires beforehand.
"Someone can call Tom Brady at 4:01 at the start of the league year in 2020 and try to sign Tom Brady," Rapoport said Monday on NFL Network's Inside Training Camp Live. "All of this is factually correct. I will also add that the relationship between Brady and the Patriots is very good and the Patriots want to do everything they can to make sure that he plays well with them. But still, Tom Brady will be, if for just one second, a free agent after this season."
The new deal was made to give Brady an $8 million pay bump for this season and give the Patriots more cap flexibility in the short term.
"It's basically a compromise," Rapoport said. "What the Patriots wanted to do is a little raise this year, $8 million. They did not want to hamstring themselves for future years. What if, let's just say Brady decides to walk away if they win the Super Bowl? This way, they didn't hurt themselves cap-wise. But Brady wants to make sure they can't just lock him in with the franchise tag with no negotiations. Nobody wants to play on the tag, everyone wants something long-term. So it's basically a compromise that hurts both sides a little bit, but helps both sides a little bit and helped them come to this deal."
For his part, Brady said Monday that his new contract simply underscores that reality that every player in the NFL is on a year-to-year prospect.
"It's really the reality for most guys in the NFL, I don't want to think I'm any different than anyone else," Brady said. "Football is a tough business. It's a production business. I'm ready to go this year, and that's really what matters, and that's where my focus is. It's a unique situation I'm in -- 20th year with the same team and 42 years old. Pretty much unchartered territory for everybody and I'm going to go out there and be the best I can this year and see what happens."
While no one expects Brady to play anywhere but New England, if he decides to continue his career into age 43, he'll first be a free agent.