FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady have agreed to a two-year contract extension through 2019 (first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini), representing the first domino to fall as the team positions itself financially for a critical stretch in the not-too-distant future.
That was the first thought that came to mind Monday morning, almost like deja vu thinking back to December of 2014 when Brady restructured his pact, and also in February of 2013 when the contract was last extended.
The Patriots, currently with about $13 million in salary-cap space (close to one of the lowest totals among teams), have four up-and-coming defenders whose contracts expire after the 2016 season: linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower, defensive end Chandler Jones, and cornerback Malcolm Butler.
Because of this, the team has to be smart in the financial commitments it makes, managing its salary cap with a strategy that accounts for the possibility of big-ticket extensions for Collins, Hightower, Jones and Butler, among others.
As part of that strategy of managing the cap, it makes sense to start at the top. Brady has a $15 million cap charge for 2016, the highest on the team, and the extension -- which Schefter and Russini report might not become official immediately -- should lower that number to provide more cap flexibility to the team (while raising Brady's cash intake).
That's the biggest takeaway from the extension, and here are a few more:
Unique dynamic between Brady's camp and team. Similar to past times in which Brady and the club have either extended or restructured the contract, it highlights the outside-the-norm dynamic between Brady, his agents Don Yee and Steve Dubin, owners Robert Kraft and Jonathan Kraft, and head coach Bill Belichick. It is seldom, if ever, acrimonious. There is an obvious level of trust in play, even after some natural strain from Deflategate.
What does it mean for Garoppolo? Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who was selected in the second round of the 2014 draft, is signed through the 2017 season. Prior to the extension, Brady's deal was also set to expire after the '17 season. With Brady now signed for two more years, could that entice the Patriots to trade Garoppolo? The feeling here is that if a team is willing to part with a future first-round draft choice, it's a scenario that has merit. Otherwise I don't see the extension having a major impact on Garoppolo, who the Patriots remain high on and feel is a solid insurance policy at the game's most important position. Belichick's comments on the value of the backup quarterback, from the time they drafted Garoppolo, still ring true. Brady's extension doesn't change that.
A chance for a 20-year run with the same team. The term of the extension sets up the possibility that Brady plays 20 seasons with the Patriots. As Schefter said on SportsCenter, Brady would become just the third player in NFL history to spend 20 seasons with the same team, joining Hall of Famers Jackie Slater and Darrell Green. That's a stat that I think means something to Brady.