Tom Brady’s decision Tuesday to leave the New England Patriots reshapes the franchise’s financial outlook for the 2020 season and beyond, freeing up salary cap space for team executives looking to retool a depleted roster.
Brady, who turns 43 in August, is expected to be among the NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks in 2020. Two teams, the Los Angeles Chargers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have made Brady offers worth more than $30 million per season, according to NFL Network.
If the Patriots had managed to lure Brady back to New England for a 20th season, a contract of that size would have limited the team’s ability to fill out the rest of its roster. Even after he signs with another team, Brady will count as $13.5 million in dead money against the Patriots’ salary cap in 2020.
Had the Patriots re-signed him at this point in the offseason, Brady’s 2020 cap charge would have been $13.5 million plus the value of his new contract.
Brady is leaving the Patriots after a 2019 season that concluded in a rare first-round playoff exit for New England. With a depleted receiving corps and middling offensive line, the Patriots offense struggled down the stretch.
Without a top-tier quarterback salary on the books, the Patriots can use the money Brady would have earned to acquire depth at other positions and identify a potential successor. For now, the Patriots have two quarterbacks on their roster, Cody Kessler and Jarrett Stidham, who are due to earn less than $1 million in 2020.
It’s unclear if the Patriots will move forward with one of those two players, sign a veteran quarterback in free agency or select a potential replacement in the 2020 NFL Draft this April.
With nine Super Bowl appearances in 20 seasons with the Patriots, Brady, even at age 43, will be difficult to replace.