New England Patriots fans are breathing a big sigh of relief right now, and not just because Tom Brady avoided getting seriously injured yesterday morning when some 21-year-old idiot who shouldn't have been driving in the first place got him involved in a car accident in downtown Boston.
After months and weeks of whispers and slowly moving negotiations, it was reported Thursday night that the franchise quarterback had agreed to a new four-year extension with the Pats through 2014 worth $72 million, $48.5 million of which is guaranteed money. That is, by comparison, a big step up from his previous four-year contract that he is currently in the last year of, where his salary was $48 million total.
So within hours, Patriot Nation went from being concerned about Brady's longterm status with the hometown team and worrying if Brady was seriously injured in a car accident, to rejoicing that not only was he uninjured, he was staying put in New England for several more seasons. For Brady, it had to be one of the wildest days of his life, for sure.
The yearly average salary of $18 million that Brady will earn starting in 2011 will be the highest in NFL history (though Peyton Manning may soon top that once his new contract extension with the Colts is done). And guess what? The three-time Super Bowl champion and two-time MVP of two of those title games deserves every bit of it. He has been the heart and soul of the Patriots franchise for the last nine years. And the 33-year-old will continue to be just that until his contract runs out at age 37 (unless he signs yet another longterm extension with the team).
Now, can coach Bill Belichick use what's left of the team money to build a championship team around him once again? If Brady has any say (and he does), he sure will. The team has already doled out longterm contract extensions to top league kicker Stephen Gostkowski and key defensive players like (now injured) Leigh Bodden, Tully Banta-Cain and Vince Wilfork.