Rapid reaction: Brady extension

Some quick-hit thoughts on the three-year contract extension (through 2017) signed by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady:

1. Brady’s salary-cap charge of about $22 million in 2013 and $22 million in 2014 was a huge figure, a result of the team renegotiating his contract last season and pushing money into 2013 and 2014. This extension provides $15 million in cap relief over the next two seasons, and that’s the key for the Patriots, as the salary cap isn’t rising. The expectation is that there will be a lot of quality players on the open market because of the number of teams scrambling to get under the cap, and this puts the Patriots in better position to capitalize.

2. Brady wants to finish his career competing for championships, and this deal gives the Patriots financial flexibility to add more talented players around Brady. The trust built between Brady and the team gave Brady more comfort in agreeing to this type of deal -- which is generous to the team –- because he believes the club will do the right thing with the money. That trust, a source said, has been built up since 2000, when Brady joined the franchise.

3. Could receiver Wes Welker be next? With Brady taking this type of deal (he surely could have commanded more if he desired), it makes one wonder whether one of his closest friends might take a similar approach. Welker is scheduled for unrestricted free agency.

4. With the contract extending to 2017, it strengthens the chances Brady will retire as a member of the Patriots. Brady turns 40 in 2017.