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Thursday, April 2, 2020

How a new CBA could make it more likely Tom Brady returns to Patriots

Tom Brady

NFL owners met on Thursday and approved the terms of a proposed new collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association, and there is optimism that a new CBA could go into effect before the start of the league year on March 18. If the New England Patriots are planning to bring back Tom Brady, that could be a significant development for them.

It’s no secret that NFL teams use a variety of tricks to manipulate the salary cap, and one of those is basically kicking money down the road in order to save cap space in the near-term. The Patriots did that prior to last season when they reworked Brady’s contract and made it a new two-year deal, but the second deal was voidable. There was never any intention of having Brady under contract in 2020, but being able to include a second, voidable year allowed the Patriots to spread out the salary cap hit.

The current CBA between the NFL and NFL Players Association is set to expire following the 2020 season. Without a new agreement in place prior to the start of the league year on March 18, teams would not be able to include voidable years in a player’s contract. As Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston pointed out, that would mean the Patriots can’t sign Brady to a contract that pays him handsomely and voids in 2021 unless a new CBA is agreed upon between now and March 18.

Kicking money down the road may seem counterproductive, but Curran notes that the NFL will have new deals with TV partners coming up and is also finding ways to profit from the legal gambling industry. That will likely lead to the salary cap increasing, which means any dead money on a player’s deal now will — in theory — occupy a lesser percentage of the team’s overall cap number in future years.

In other words, a new CBA would remove one potential complication from contract negotiations between Brady and the Patriots. Some of the recent reports we have heard about the situation indicate that may not matter, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.

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