TAMPA ― If Tom Brady fulfills his desire to play in the NFL until he is at least 45, it will be with the Bucs.
One month after winning his seventh Super Bowl, Brady and the Bucs are working on a contract extension, as expected.
It could be done sometime this week, but the two sides are believed to have a lot of work remaining because of the complexity of lowering Brady’s $28.4 million cap hit for 2021.
Brady has one more year left on a two-year, $50 million contract he signed with Tampa Bay last March. However, his salary cap value increased by $3.4 million. That’s the amount of bonuses Brady earned for reaching Super Bowl 55 and winning it, so it was added to his cap value as likely to be earned incentives.
According to Overthecap.com, the Bucs have $11.98 million in space under the projected $180.5 million salary cap.
The Bucs have about two dozen players set to become unrestricted free agents, a list that includes Shaquil Barrett, receivers Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, linebacker Lavonte David, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Rakeem Nunez-Roches and placekicker Ryan Succop.
Naturally, Brady would like for the Bucs to retain as many of those players as possible.
For example, the Bucs could turn part of Brady’s $25 million salary into a $10 million bonus and lower his salary-cap number by $5 million by counting half of it in 2021 and the other half in 2022.
Brady, 43, showed no signs of slowing down after passing for 4,633 yards with 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He added 10 more touchdown passes in the playoffs and Super Bowl.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht made it clear a couple weeks ago that a priority would be extending Brady’s deal.
“We thought Tom played incredibly well this year along with the entire team, and we would love to have Tom play here — I can speak for Bruce (Arians), I think — as long as he continues to want to play,” Licht said. “So, if that comes to fruition at some point, we’d be elated.”
Teams have until Tuesday to designate a franchise player, and Godwin is the most likely candidate.
Godwin turned 25 last month would still receive a significant raise, from a base salary of $2.133 million in 2020 to a projected $16.43 as a franchise player and still be free to negotiate a contact extension with the Bucs.