Pay attention, Joe Flacco. Being an elite quarterback can be tricky when seeking elite dollars.
Tom Brady agreed to a three-year extension worth a paltry (by megastar standards) $27 million. The contract, first reported by Sports Illustrated and confirmed to USA TODAY Sports by a person with knowledge of the deal, keeps Brady tied to the New England Patriots through 2017 -- and, more crucial to 2013, clears significant room under the projected $121million salary cap. The person requested anonymity because the deal is not yet official.
In an era when contract talks often become squabbles over the last nickel, Brady has thrown a touchdown pass to the free agency end zone that could lure new blood and keep old blood, such as wideout Wes Welker.
Brady, due $15 million in 2013 from his previous deal, wants to win. He's also demonstrating more of his well-established leadership by reworking his contract for later years at under-market value.
If you're Flacco, the Super Bowl MVP engaged in talks with the Baltimore Ravens, this could add pressure. Some might suggest he settle for less than the $20 million a year Drew Brees got last year to become the NFL's highest-paid player. "Take less for the team, Joe. Look at Brady."
Sure, Flacco, 28, should give the Ravens a discount if it means keeping potential free agents Ed Reed and Dannell Ellerbe plus trusted wideout Anquan Boldin in the fold. Yet Flacco could leave money on the table and those players could still leave.
Maybe a day comes when Flacco executes a Brady-esque cap maneuver. But he might never be this hot again. It's time for his monster deal.
What a striking contrast. Brady, 35, just completed his 13th season. He has had multiple mega-contracts and makes a ton from endorsements. Plus his supermodel wife, Gisele Bundchen, commands big bank.
While it's conceivable Brady could break records on the open market, he'll still earn at least $18 million in salary and bonuses in 2013. The new deal is flush with guaranteed money, a tradeoff for lowering his average salary from $18 million to $14.12 million and clearing $15 million in cap space over the next two years.
And given history, such as his restructured deal last year to clear $7million in cap room, it's possible he'll strike another deal in 2015, when revenue from the new TV deals fuel a major spike in the cap.
This much Flacco can learn from Brady: Being an elite quarterback sure has options.