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Give Tom Brady credit for putting Patriots first in new deal

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer
Tom Brady's new deal is nothing but good for New England. (USATSI)

Tom Brady just signed an extension with New England that will make him a Patriot for life. But, unlike other quarterbacks, he didn't require the Pats to break the bank. He took $27 million total for a three-year extension and while there's likely some sneaky accounting involved and while Brady doesn't deserve martyrdom for this deal, he does deserve credit for the way he handled his business.

First, let's put the money Brady's receiving in context. Mark Sanchez signed a three-year, $40 million extension with the Jets before the 2012 season. Sure, Sanchez was 10 years younger than Brady; please don't try and use that argument.

The argument that would work when discussing Brady's selflessness is that he didn't really take a huge discount when it comes to guaranteed money. He's now essentially been given a fully guaranteed $60 million deal the next five years. That's the same amount of guaranteed cash the Saints gave Drew Brees when they handed him a five-year, $100 million deal.

So, no, Brady did not simply give up his financial future in order to make the Patriots better long term. He's going to get $60 million from New England. But that's just a very large boatful of gravy on top of the money he's already made on and off the field, not to mention the fact that his wife might end up being a billionaire on her own accord.

All of that's to say that money doesn't matter to Brady. Or, at least, not to the point that he's willing to hold his franchise hostage, something he could certainly do by riding out his current contract. Brady got a new deal done with the Patriots in a quick, quiet and under-the-radar fashion.

It pays him handsomely and so he wins. But more than anything else, the Patriots win here. They'll be on the hook for Brady's salary -- which works out to $12 million a year -- until he's 40. If he falls off a cliff any time soon, they could be in trouble.

But that's unlikely to happen and as a result, the Patriots are suddenly flush with cap space. Having cap space means they get to improve a team that was a viable Super Bowl contender the last two seasons.

They can add a cornerback off the free-agent market to improve the secondary. They can -- and should -- bring back Wes Welker. They can get some speed at wide receiver (Mike Wallace anyone?). They will, as the Patriots tend to do, evolve and compete and challenge for a title.

New England would've done that anyway, whether Brady did this deal or not. Clearing up the cap space does it a world of good for 2013 and 2014, particularly with his cap number where it was.

It doesn't hurt, either, that Brady's decision to take less money (whether he did or not) looks good in the locker room.

The fuzzy mathematics of Brady's deal mean he's ultimately not costing himself all that much cash. The Patriots are getting him $60 million or so guaranteed, they're paying him until he retires and he's put in a very nice situation going forward.

But people see "three years, $27 million" and think about how crazy cheap that is for Brady. That goes a long way publicly and in the locker room, where the other Patriots understand Brady ignored the upshot of a few extra million in order to give New England a better shot at competing the next few years. And it could go a long toward convincing other Patriots players that they should do the same thing as well, in the name of helping out the team.

In the end, it doesn't matter how much money Brady left on the table, if any at all. It's the way the Patriots and their quarterback handled this new extension -- not to mention the timing of it -- that makes this such a smart move all the way around.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.

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