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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Too Much Being Made of NFL QB Contract Extensions

Members of the media obviously need something to talk about while the world of professional sports is amidst its most boring season. I understand they have a job to do and it can be frustrating when there are no major headlines for an extended period of time. However, the lack of exciting story lines can lead to some serious overreacting, which is what has happened this NFL off-season with the uncertainty surrounding the contract situations of the league’s elite quarterbacks.

When I woke up Monday morning and read that ESPN’s Adam Schefter was reporting that Tom Brady‘s contract discussions with the New England Patriots were progressing, why was I surprised? Maybe it’s because the word “holdout” has been the most closely connected word to Brady’s name, despite the fact that he never said anything about — or even hinted at — the possibility that he would stay home when training camp began. The three-time Super Bowl champ may be building a home in L.A., enjoy boxing there, and be friendly with Kobe Bryant, but he’s not leaving New England.

The general consensus has been that Brady’s relationship with the Patriots has been strained by a lack of progress toward a long-term extension. The reason people seem to think there is trouble in paradise is that Brady has remained silent even though he’s had chances to refute those claims. What would be the point of coming out and saying everything is sunshine and roses when his future isn’t secure? Does that mean he has to pull an Albert Haynesworth? Absolutely not. But there’s no need to pretend, either. The contract isn’t done. He’d obviously prefer that it was. Until it is, why talk about it?

Stories on the topic of contract extensions with elite NFL quarterbacks have a tendency to omit important details. The huge one: the uncertain labor agreement. No one seems to really be sure if there will be football in 2011. That has an enormous effect on contract discussions, especially when dealing with guys who are going to become the highest paid players in the league. Structuring an NFL contract is difficult enough when you’re forced to be mindful of the salary cap. When teams and players don’t know what the parameters on the next salary cap are even going to look like, imagine how much confusion that can add.

With Tom Brady in particular, not enough has been made of the fact that he’s a player rep for the Union. Even if it’s in his nature to come out and say everything is fine between he and Robert Kraft and whoever else despite not having an extension, he wouldn’t be fulfilling his responsibility as a rep. Instead, he’s treading a fine line between not coming off as a jackass or a pushover. Remaining silent is the best way to go about it.

If the Patriots can’t take care of Tom Brady, the Colts can’t take care of Peyton Manning, and the Saints can’t take care of Mr. Do-It-All Drew Brees, what reason do their players have to trust them? If you were a player on one of those teams — or a player thinking about joining one — and you knew they couldn’t hammer out an extension with one of the most important players in franchise history, would you think they’re going to take care of you? If those teams let those guys walk, they’re losing a lot more than a Super Bowl MVP quarterback. They’d be putting the credibility of their owners in question. Bottom line: Ignore what the media has to say because these future Hall of Famers are staying right where they are.



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