Monday, July 26, 2010

Countdown to Camp 2010: Contracts

You no doubt heard that Tom Brady and Logan Mankins are unhappy with their contracts.  And if you haven't, you can't fault the local sports media.  They've been in an absolute tizzy about it, with multiple stories appearing in all the local newspapers, nightly reports on television, and hours upon hours of sports talk angst.

Pay attention to the blather and you might think the Patriots risk having two of their best offensive players hold out.  Pay attention to the facts, and you'd probably conclude otherwise.  I did the latter, and here are some more realistic thoughts on how we got here and what's likely to happen.

Logan Mankins is currently the Patriots best offensive lineman.  He was offered a one-year tender of $3.26 million, and that has been reduced to $1.54 million at this time (because he didn't sign it by a deadline).  Mankins claims he will not play for that little and demanded a trade.

The Patriots reportedly offered Makins a five-year contract worth $35 million, which would put him in the top five highest paid offensive guards in the league.  Makins hasn't signed the deal, so he might be after an average of $8 million a year, which would put him at the top of the heap for guards.

Logan's biggest problem is that he has little leverage.  If he doesn't play this year, his 2010 contract would be enforced in 2011 instead.  And with the current labor uncertainty, that might leave him without a paycheck for two years or more.  He can't force a trade, and other teams are unlikely to pay top dollar to an interior lineman who would take at least half a season learning their blocking schemes.

The media would have you believe that teams are lining up to trade for Logan, but if that were the case he'd already be gone.  The Patriots have Sebastian Vollmer to take over for Matt Light at left tackle, and that would put Light in Mankins' position, which is a better fit for Light's talents.

The likely outcome: Mankins will hold out for training camp, and just before the last pre-season game will sign a deal close to the one currently on the table.  Oh, and the media will play the Patriots up as meanies who beat up players with every contract negotiation.  My advice -- once Mankins signs, turn off the radio for a couple of days.

As for Brady, the media paints poor old Tom as vastly underpaid, given that his 2010 salary is $3.5 million.   But not only is he under contract, he's finishing up a deal that will pay him $60 million over six years.  Now my math is a little bit creaky, but I think that comes to an average of $10 million a year.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.

And before someone repeats the lie that Peyton Manning makes way more than Brady -- Peyton will make $63 million over those same six years.

There are rumblings that Brady is unhappy with his contract, and honestly, the Patriots need to redo it.  That's why I think it will get done -- it benefits both sides.  Brady gets the security of a long-term deal, and the Patriots protect their investment and don't have to deal with the Franchise Tag or any of that messiness next year.

Add to all that the fact that 2010 is an uncapped year, and the Pats can front-load the extension with 90% of the salary and that will give them more cap flexibility in the future.  (Note: signing bonuses are divided by the number of years and spread out over the life of the contract, so giving Brady a big signing bonus will actually hurt them in cap issues going forward.)

My prediction is that Kraft will intervene if it becomes necessary, but this deal will get done.  And Brady is too much of a team player to go all "Deion Branch" on them.  So don't worry about Brady hitting the open market next year or pouting because he didn't get his money.  He'll be in camp, excited to work with the young tight ends and receivers they signed.  And some point during camp the team will announce a long-term deal with Brady.

Feel free to call or write your favorite sports media personality with this information.  It always drives them crazy when you refute their hysteria with facts :)

Keep the faith,

- Scott

PS.  0-0!

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