Tom Brady cashed in again with a contract extension that runs through the 2021 season, with a clause that could guide him to free agency in March 2020.
But the New England Patriots’ quarterback isn’t focused on finances or free agent visits, rather he’s digging in again to those who doubted he could become a great player when he emerged as a starter in 2001.
“I have a great opportunity here,” Brady said Monday, two days after turning 42 and as his reworked contract was finalized with the Patriots.
“It’s really the reality for most guys in the NFL. I don’t want anyone to think I’m any different from everyone else. 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.
“I’ve just had a great history here. I love playing quarterback here. I love this team, this organization, Mr. (Robert) Kraft, Jonathan (Kraft), Coach (Bill) Belichick, all the coaches, all the players. The focus is this year and what we have to do. That’s where I’m focused. That’s all that really matters in the end, and that’s what this team expects of me — to put everything into it, like I always have. I’m really excited for the year.”
The six-time Super Bowl champion will make $23 million in 2019, tied for sixth-highest among quarterbacks with Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.
From there, the Patriots have void years for 2020 and 2021, potentially setting Brady free for the first time in his career. ESPN reported the Patriots agreed they will not use the franchise tag to keep Brady for the 2020 season. Signing him to another extension after the contract is voided would be an obvious option and keep Brady from the open market.
“It is what it is. That’s a good line. Whoever said it; it’s very pertinent. Like I said, there are a lot of guys who have one year left on their contract. So the situation — I have one year to go, we’ll see what happens,” Brady said.
Belichick, who is one to use the “it is what it is” phrase, declined to discuss specifics of Brady’s deal or any level of negotiations that took place on Monday. But he did seem genuinely excited to begin another season with No. 12 behind center.
“On the Brady contract, it’s always good to come to an agreement with any player,” he said.
“Tom’s been very consistent throughout the course of his career. Feel like we’re off to a good start in training camp. We all have a long way to go. But Tom’s worked hard. He’s put in a lot of time, a lot of work, as he always does. He’s very well prepared. We’re looking forward at building for this season and getting better on a daily basis.”
Brady posted a message to social media Sunday that he got a chance to hold his draft card from the 2000 NFL Draft, when the Patriots selected him 199th overall, with a message: “Never forget where you came from.” The chip on Brady’s shoulder is not a secret, and he said Monday that’s a reason he’s still around for a 20th season.
“It’s really, you’ve got to take care of your body. I wrote a book on it, literally,” Brady said. “Hopefully I can be an inspiration. I’ve got a great opportunity to prove to people that, you know, didn’t think I could do it.”
—Field Level Media