The Buccaneers are not about to repeat the Patriots’ mistake of letting Tom Brady reach free agency.
Brady agreed Friday to a contract extension assuring he will remain with the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers through at least 2022, according to ESPN. He originally signed a two-year, $50 million contract last offseason, meaning he would have been a free agent for the second time in his career after this season.
It’s actually a four-year extension that voids to a one-year extension, according to ESPN. NFL teams are using the “voidable years” loophole more frequently this offseason as a salary-cap workaround.
The reduced salary cap – from last year’s $198 million down to $182.5 million because of lost revenues caused by COVID-19 restrictions – is forcing all but a handful of teams to cut veterans or restructure contracts to get under the limit.
So, the Buccaneers will be able to spread out the 43-year-old Brady’s signing bonus over four years for salary cap purposes and rearrange salary numbers. Brady cannot actually play on “voidable years,” so he would need a new deal before 2023 if he is still playing, and the fancy math is just a way of kicking the money down the road to a time when the cap is expected to increase.
The move creates $19 million of cap space, according to ESPN. The Buccaneers are one of the cap-strapped teams, after franchise-tagging receiver Chris Godwin and re-signing linebacker Lavonte David.
Pass-rusher Shaq Barrett, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, running back Leonard Fournette and receiver Antonio Brown are among Tampa Bay’s premium free agents.
Brady is not believed to have asked for a raise after winning his record seventh Super Bowl title, according to NFL Network. During his two decades with the Patriots, Brady made a habit of reworking his contract to allow the team to keep other important pieces of a championship roster.