Patriots quarterback Tom Brady already has established himself as one of the NFL's brightest stars by virtue of three Super Bowl victories. This validation went to a higher level Saturday.
Brady signed a new six-year contract, worth nearly $60 million, through the 2010 season, sources say.
The contract replaces the two years that Brady had remaining on his previous deal. Under that contract, Brady was scheduled to earn base salaries of $5.5 million in 2005 and $6 million for 2006.
"It's a good thing they got it done," Deion Branch, who caught a record-tying 11 passes from Brady in this year's Super Bowl, told The Associated Press. "It would be good to keep everyone together. We know he'll be here, though."
According to documents obtained by ESPN.com, the contract includes a $14.5 million signing bonus and a $12 million option bonus that is due next spring. The base salaries are $1 million (for 2005), $4 million ('06), $6 million ('07), $5 million ('08), $2.3 million ('09) and $3.5 million ('10). There are roster bonuses of $3 million each in the final three years of the contract.
Brady will have a salary cap charge of $8.429 million for 2005, which is between $1.5 million and $2 million less than under his old contract. But his cap number for 2006 jumps to a prohibitive $14.423 million, meaning the contract will have to be revisited probably by converting the option bonus into a signing bonus, which can then be prorated.
There are also guarantees, such as injury guarantees in the 2007 and '08 seasons, in the deal. Over the first three years of the contract, a measuring stick that is often used now by many agents and teams to gauge comparative value, the deal averages $13.111 million.
Patriots officials and agent Don Yee worked several months on the contract. It was reported two months ago that a deal was imminent, but that contract was not completed at the time because of issues over structure, distribution and guarantee of bonuses.
At the Super Bowl three months ago, Patriots owner Bob Kraft acknowledged the team was seeking to complete an extension with Brady, but also suggested that New England was not likely to pay bonus money commensurate to that received by Peyton Manning of Indianapolis and Atlanta's Michael Vick in their recent extensions. Last month, when the Patriots visited the White House, Brady allowed that he was concerned about the pace of the negotiations and conceded he was unsure when a deal might be struck.
By nearly every method of calculation employed in NFL circles, though, the deal still makes Brady one of the highest paid players in the league.
And, given his sterling resume, deservedly so.
The five-year veteran, selected in the sixth round of the 2000 draft, has led the Patriots to victories in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX. His record as a starter, a role that he assumed two games into the 2001 season when Drew Bledsoe was sidelined by a severe chest injury, is 48-14 and he is a perfect 9-0 in postseason play.
Brady was named the most valuable player in each of New England's first two Super Bowl wins.
The former University of Michigan star has completed 1,243 of 2,018 passes for 13,925 yards, with 97 touchdown passes and 52 interceptions.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.