You could imagine the comments from many Ravens fans as soon as news broke Monday of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s three-year, $27 million contract extension that will take him through the 2017 season.
Were Joe Flacco and his agent Joe Linta paying attention to those figures?
If Brady will take less money for the team’s sake, why won’t Flacco?
I wish Joe would be a team player like that guy in New England, who is twice the quarterback he’ll ever be.
While it’s true that Flacco and any other quarterback due for a major payday in the next year or two will take a hit in the public eye because of the perception created by Brady’s reworked deal that clears cap room for the Patriots in each of the next two seasons, there’s really no comparison between Brady’s situation and the one for the current Super Bowl MVP.
First and foremost, the Patriots essentially turned the remaining years of Brady’s current contract into a five-year, $60 million contract with all money guaranteed, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network. It’s a sweet deal for a veteran wanting to finish his career with the Patriots, a team notorious for cutting veteran players with escalating salaries and declining skills. And while the numbers don’t sound as sexy as the recent deals signed by Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, the $60 million in guaranteed money sounds nearly as good as Brees’ contract even if it means Brady won’t make quite as much money over the entire life of the contract.
That much guaranteed money for a quarterback entering the final years of his career is a major accomplishment.
Second, Flacco is at a completely different stage of his career as the 28-year-old seeks his first large payday after completing his rookie contract signed in 2008. Brady will be 36 prior to the start of the 2013 season and just worked out the final contract of his career. Let’s not forget Brady signed a four-year, $72 million contract with $48.5 million in guaranteed money at the start of the 2010 season to become the highest-paid player in the NFL at the time.
Even if Brady presently remains the superior quarterback — though Linta will remind you his client outplayed the Patriots signal-caller in each of the last two AFC Championship games — the expectations over the next five years for each player differ. Flacco is projected to be entering the best years of his career while Brady will try to hold onto what he is right now for as long as he can.
Brady negotiated the extension knowing the Patriots have made a habit of purging veterans near the end of the career. He may have done the Patriots a favor from a cap perspective, but it also ensures that he won’t be kicked to the curb at some point over the next few years. In contrast, Flacco and Linta know they have all the leverage in the world over general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens, who have no choice but to re-sign the quarterback with no other real option available to them.
Finally, Brady’s hometown discount that reduces the cap numbers but leaves the Patriots on the hook for a ton of cash over the next five years doesn’t eliminate the other quarterback deals signed over the last couple years. The good news for the Ravens is that Brady’s restructure reduces his 2013 cap number to $13.8 million, which is projected to lower the exclusive tag number to just under $20 million if the Ravens ultimately elect to go that route without a long-term deal in place by March 4.
The reality is that one player taking a deal like this doesn’t mean others will — or should — follow suit. And while Brady’s extension might linger in the back of Flacco’s mind when it boils down to the final minute details of how to structure the contract, it’s not going to have any substantial impact in moving the meter in terms of guaranteed money.
Total money is typically what makes people react, but guaranteed money is the substance of any NFL contract and Brady’s $60 million guaranteed is a very nice five-year retirement plan for one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history.
It has very little impact on the Flacco negotiations.
To suggest otherwise is just wishful thinking.