TAMPA — Shortly after posting a photograph on social media of himself signing a one-year contract extension Friday, Tom Brady received a picture-perfect response.
The Bucs quarterback wrote, “In pursuit of 8,” referring to the next Lombardi Trophy he hopes to grasp. “... we’re keeping the band together.”
That’s when unsigned linebacker Shaquil Barrett replied, “Yessir.”
Winning Super Bowls is what Brady does. But for the sixth time in his career, Brady restructured his contract Friday to give his team more money to win the next one.
The Bucs added a year to Brady’s deal, which now runs through the 2022 season, allowing him to fulfill his plan to quarterback an NFL team until he is at least 45.
He also allowed the Bucs to gain $19 million of salary-cap room in 2021 with three voidable years, which could go a long way in re-signing players set to become free agents, such as Barrett.
“Tom is one of those great guys that understands it takes a whole village to win and it takes a team, a group of guys to win football games,” linebacker Lavonte David said.
Prior to Friday, the Bucs were approximately $7.2 million over the $182.5 million salary cap after designating receiver Chris Godwin as their franchise player and re-signing David to a team-friendly, two-year, $25 million contract. David’s deal included three voidable years that lowered his cap value to $3.5 million for 2021.
Brady, who signed a two-year, $50 million contract with the Bucs last March, was due to count $28.4 million against the salary cap because of the incentives he earned in leading the Bucs to a win in Super Bowl 55.
Barrett isn’t the only Bucs player who may benefit. So may other free agents such as tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, kicker Ryan Succop and wide receiver Antonio Brown.
“When we acquired Tom a year ago, we were extremely excited about the leadership, poise and winning track record that he would bring to our locker room,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said in a statement.
“Since that time, he has proven himself to be the ultimate competitor and delivered in every way we had imagined, helping us capture the Lombardi Trophy. Year after year, Tom proves that he remains one of the elite quarterbacks in this game, and we couldn’t be happier to keep him in Tampa Bay as we continue to pursue our goals together.”
At 43, Brady showed no signs of slowing down after joining the Bucs.
Despite no offseason program, unfamiliarity with teammates, the first year in a new offense and no preseason games, Brady had one of the best seasons of his career in 2020.
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He passed for 4,633 yards with a team-record 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions before adding 10 more TD passes in the postseason.
After winning Super Bowl 55, Brady said his wife, Gisele, greeted him on the field by asking, “What more do you have to prove?”
Apparently, 14 conference championship games, 10 Super Bowl appearances and seven Lombardi Trophies are not enough for Brady.