By: Ian Logue
It takes about six and a half hours to fly from Boston to Los Angeles, covering a stretch of approximately 2,606 air miles across the country in what is essentially the longest span a person can travel on an airplane within the continental United States.
According to Peter King of SI.com, it was a flight like that one which Robert Kraft and Tom Brady spent together that ultimately helped to initiate Brady’s recent contract extension that will keep him in New England for what will hopefully be the remainder of his career.
Brady will return in 2013 under contract for what should be the rest of his career. (FILE:USPresswire)
The flight happened shortly after the Patriots season came to an abrupt end against the Baltimore Ravens, with Kraft admitting that putting his “fan hat” on, he wanted to make sure that Brady never repeated the history of what Joe Montana or Brett Favre did by leaving their teams and finishing their careers elsewhere. Players like Brady obviously don’t come around often, and keeping him here until the end was a goal that Kraft wanted to make sure the two sides figured out. If not, Kraft knows that Brady would have gotten an offer from someone else.
“If Tom Brady played out this current contract and left us, there was no doubt in my mind that someone out there would pay him top dollar, and they should, for his ability, his leadership and his unselfishness,” Kraft told King.
“I was just trying to stay ahead of the curve. If we were going to have to pay him elite-quarterback money and have elite-quarterback cap numbers, I just didn’t think we would be able to build a team. We don’t want to have a team where we’re paying 18 to 20 percent to a player on the cap. I wanted to do something elegant that would work for everybody. I had been talking to him off and on for maybe 18 months, about how I wanted him to finish his career here, and about how we both have to be smart about it. I just really want him to end his career a Patriot.”
The 35-year old veteran is coming off of a season where he finished 401-for-637 for 4827 yards and 34 touchdowns, which is the second highest yardage total of his career. He also became the first player in NFL history to throw a touchdown in all 16 regular season games for 3 straight seasons, and will be taking a 48 straight regular season touchdown streak with him into the 2013 season.
He also rushed for a career best 4 touchdowns, as well as converting 11 first downs.
Now that this new deal is in place it clearly solidifies his position with this football team through 2017, ending any speculation of what his future may hold. Barring any injury or drop off in production, these last few years will hopefully see another couple of championship runs. The good news is the cap space alleviated by this new contract opens up the ability to make sure they can bring in talent around him and Kraft says they’ll “spend to the cap” to help make that happen.
“I am glad we are able to take negotiations out of this relationship for the next five years. Look, I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next five years. No one can know. But this move, strategically, helps us be in a position to win. We’re going to spend to the cap. Tom knows that it’s not like whatever we don’t pay him we’re putting in the Kraft family pocket. He gets it, and now he’s rooting for us to make the right decisions in building the team. By the way, I have heard that it’s been reported Tom made demands about who he wanted us to sign. Absolutely not. It never happened.
“I credit Tom for doing the right thing and thinking outside the box. That’s what we’re trying to do as an organization, and certainly what Bill Belichick tries to do as a coach. If you don’t have a good coach and a quarterback, you don’t have much of a chance to win. We are fortunate that we have both who are way above par. Tom is everything that we want.”
Brady’s everything and more that fans could have ever hoped to have had come through this organization. They’ve never experienced a losing or .500 season during Brady’s entire tenure, and have obviously experienced three Super Bowl Championships as well as an undefeated regular season.
Fortunately now he’s under contract for what should be the rest of his career, which should have most fans excited to see how this incredible story will play out as he writes the final chapter here in New England.