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Friday, June 5, 2020

Report: Patriots offered Tom Brady a one-year deal at less than 2019 salary

Tom Brady

The New England Patriots are almost certainly not going to be the highest bidder for Tom Brady when free agency opens next week, but have they already made the 42-year-old quarterback an insultingly low offer?

Multiple reports claimed Brady and Bill Belichick had a conversation last week that was not very productive, with ESPN’s Adam Schefter saying the two spoke on the phone recently and the discussion was “business as usual.” However, WEEI radio host Dale Arnold was told by sources that there is a good reason Brady’s side may have viewed the conversation as one that did not go well.

According to Arnold, Brady was told by Belichick that the best the Patriots can offer the six-time Super Bowl champion is a one-year deal at a lower salary than he made in 2019.

“This is what I was told happened: There was a phone call between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. There was not a negotiation,” Arnold said on his show Thursday. “There wasn’t a, ‘We will offer you a two-year deal at X number of dollars.’ What I was told happened was the Patriots told Tom Brady that all they can do is a one-year deal at less money than he made last year because of the $13.5 million that gets tacked onto the salary cap and basically, ‘What we’re going to be able to do here Tom, is a one-year deal, but it’s not going to be for as much money as you got last year.’”

With the way the Patriots structured Brady’s contract last offseason, there will be a dead salary cap hit of $13.5 million in 2020 if he waits until after March 18 to sign — even if he returns to the Patriots. The only way to avoid that would be if Brady re-signed with the Patriots prior to the start of free agency, which would then result in only a $6.75 million cap hit.

The timing has had the potential to be a huge obstacle all along. Brady seems intent on testing free agency, and the only way the Patriots can avoid a huge dead cap hit in 2020 is to re-sign him before he hits the open market. There are other ways the team could get creative with Brady’s next contract, but the odds of him leaving increase dramatically the closer we get to free agency.

Brady made around $23 million last season, so taking less than that in 2020 would put him well below the top-paid quarterbacks in football.

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