|Brady and Kraft: boys for life. (USATSI)|
The $27 million extension/contract that Tom Brady signed, originally praised, has been subject to much scrutiny, particularly in the wake of Joe Flacco signing a deal that contains less guaranteed money.
Many folks are upset at the praise that Brady received for being selfless since he's making more than $60 million. And many more folks are upset that the Patriots -- pardon the pun -- crafted a "fake" deal that's designed to be redone in a few years. Patriots owner Robert Kraft disagrees with all the critics.
"No, no, no," Kraft told Peter King of Sports Illustrated. "This is a real deal. Look at our track record. We don't do fake deals. The contract we have with Tom Brady is a real contract we will both live by."
Kraft told King the logic behind Brady's contract was to ensure that the New England quarterback remained a Patriot for life rather than finishing out the final few years of his career elsewhere, like other big-name stars in NFL history.
"[I've] been thinking about this for three or four years. I was probably wearing my fan hat as much as anything else," Kraft said. "I just didn't want to ever see this become like Joe Montana leaving San Francisco, Emmitt Smith leaving Dallas, Brett Favre leaving Green Bay, Peyton Manning leaving Indianapolis. If Tom Brady played out this current contract and left us, there was no doubt in my mind that someone out there would pay him top dollar, and they should, for his ability, his leadership and his unselfishness."
The irony of Kraft's quote to King is that both Montana and Favre were traded out of San Francisco and Green Bay, respectively. Manning was also let go by the Colts before re-signing for massive dollars elsewhere and Emmitt was released by the Cowboys. But his point remains: he never wants to see Brady in another uniform.
By guaranteeing all of Brady's bucks, he might have done that. Though I still maintain that Brady took a team-friendly deal, he's not a "saint" and he didn't risk his own personal wealth or long-term future by agreeing to New England's offer. He made a pile of money -- less than he's worth on the open market -- and helped to give the Patriots more room to make additions in free agency this offseason.
"I presented an idea to him that I thought could work for both sides. He takes care of his body in terms of exercise and working out and his food. Tom's intake of food is, really, so healthy. He has a whole style of living that is so important to him," Kraft said. "We're taking a chance making this commitment, and he's taking one, in terms of his ability to maximize pay. I just thought if winning is the most important thing to him, and I think it is, and it certainly is to our family, this gives us the best chance to win. Hopefully we have an elite quarterback that, even if his skills decline even a little bit, he'll still be better than 90 percent of the quarterbacks in the league.
"And his legacy -- I already believe he's the greatest of all time -- if we win one or two more, he can solidify that."
Kraft also credited Brady for "doing the right thing and thinking outside the box" and pointed out that hammering out the deal in advance of free agency was critical for the Patriots in terms of creating cap space for this year and next.
"If this thing took three or four months, we would have lost that window," Kraft said.
And what does he say to all the critics out there, many of whom believe the Patriots are simply setting themselves up for another contract in a year or two? Kraft thinks they're haters, or perhaps "jealous."
"These people don't know the relationship between Tommy and this team," Kraft said. "Maybe they hate the Patriots, or they're jealous. I understand the naysayers are out there, but we want to build a team capable of winning every year. And while this is not perfect in every way, we think this will help us get there."
The reality is that having Brady will guarantee the Patriots some measure of success for the next few years. He's older, and he's probably, as Kraft admitted, declining a bit. But Tom Brady's decline isn't your normal decline. He was close to winning the Super Bowl the last two years and has played at an MVP level.
If he continues playing the way that he has, the Patriots' deal will look like a good one. And Kraft will end up quite happy with what he gave his quarterback.