Patriots owner Robert Kraft will make one final NFL contract offer to Tom Brady.
Kraft said in a CNN interview on Thursday he wants Brady to sign a one-day deal with New England to formally retire as a member of the organization he led to six Super Bowl titles in nine appearances with the franchise.
“Not only do I want it, our fans are clamoring for it and to us, he always has been and always will be a Patriot,” said Kraft, who congratulated Brady on his second retirement from the NFL on Wednesday. “We’ll do everything we can in our power to bring him back, sign off as a Patriot and find ways to honor him for many years to come. He did so much to bring life and good cheer to our community and he’s a beloved figure and he’s earned the respect and love that people feel for him like no other athlete in our town and we’ve had some great ones.”
Brady retired in a brief video in self-deprecating fashion, referencing his use of “one super emotional retirement essay, and I used mine up last year.”
In 23 seasons, Brady played in the Super Bowl 10 times and won seven Lombardi Trophies, the last coming as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady left New England in 2020 to sign with the Bucs.
There are formal complications, and then there are emotional strings the length of which only Brady knows for sure.
Formally, he’s under contract with the Buccaneers until free agency begins March 15. And even at that point, Brady is on the books for a $35.1 million cap charge for 2023 for restructured deals with now cap-strapped Tampa.
The Patriots drafted Brady 199th overall in 2000, and he made more than $330 million in his career, according to sports salary database Spotrac. But Brady never approached market value on any contract with the Patriots and embraced the opportunity to write his final chapters with the Buccaneers.
In 2021, Business Insider reported Brady left more than $60 million — and as much as $100 million — on the table by agreeing to play for less in New England.
His final deals with the Patriots were far short of the going rate for winning quarterbacks, not to mention three-time NFL MVPs.
Brady signed a one-year, $23 million deal for the 2019 season and ended negotiations with a firm contract clause that blocked the Patriots from using the franchise tag to keep him in March 2020.
His previous contract was even more modest — a two-year, $30 million deal that represented a tangible reduction from a two-year, $41 million contract he signed in 2016. For context, the Steelers signed Ben Roethlisberger to a contract that paid him $35.1 million in ’16, and Cam Newton’s salary with the Panthers was $31 million per year.
That season the Chicago Bears paid Jay Cutler $20.5 million, which matched Brady’s annual take.