After watching last night’s Super Bowl, it appears that suddenly there is some new found appreciation for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady among many in the media – along with some discussion of how he compares to Colts QB Peyton Manning.

That being said the veteran QB is heading into the final year of his contract, and it’s going to be interesting to see if a contract extension is going to be reached prior to the start of the upcoming season.

Brady, who according to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com is reportedly due to receive a $3 million roster bonus on March 5th, has previously made it clear that he’ll do what it takes to help the team stay competitive and doesn’t seem to necessarily feel the need to be the highest paid guy at his position.  That’s more or less been his stance since he took over the reigns in 2001.

However things were different back then.  He wasn’t married, didn’t have kids, and also didn’t have his football mortality tested after suffering a major knee injury that sidelined him for the entire 2008 season.  One has to wonder if the realization that his career could be over in the blink of an eye may cause him to take what could be his final potential “big pay day” a bit more seriously. 

How the front office handles these negotiations will also be critical, as they haven’t exactly seemed to be very tactful in that regard recently.  Look at the handling of the Vince Wilfork negotiations. For a deal that seemed to be imminant before the start of training camp last year, something clearly went drastically wrong. Now instead Wilfork seems very irritated and certainly doesn’t sound like the same guy we heard comments from last April when it seemed like it was already a done deal.

Obviously everyone within the organization has to know what Brady means to this football team, and one would have to believe that he’s got to be somewhere near the top of the list for priorities before next season.  Reiss believes that a new deal for Brady could be somewhere between $15 – $18 million per season (and potentially higher), which still wouldn’t make him the highest paid guy at his position, but could be enough to get it done.  However previously he’s said that he’s willing to take less money so the team can retain and surround him with talent.  Considering what transpired during this past season, that commitment should definitely be tested this offseason.  Randy Moss isn’t getting any younger (and he’s coming off of suffering a separated shoulder), and the team will likely be without Wes Welker for at least a portion (if not all) of 2010.  So they’re definitely going to need to get him some more offensive weapons.  We also know that they’ve also got their problems on defense which need to be addressed, especially if they can’t find a way to work something out with Wilfork.

Needless to say this could be one of the most interesting offseasons in recent memory.  It would be nice to see #12 locked up and kept in a Patriots uniform for the rest of his career, but it seems like there are definitely some factors to consider.  Let’s hope the team finds a way to get something worked out, and preferably before the 2010 season begins.