The Patriots restructured Tom Brady's contract last offseason, pushing his cap hits up over $21 million in both 2013 and 2014, which are the final years of his deal. Even if the Pats could restructure him again, which they'd have to wait until April to do, there's just nowhere to push the money.
Brady should be able to earn one final contract from the Patriots based on his performance in 2011 and 2012, so perhaps a new deal is in line to take Brady to 40-years-old. A four-year pact would give the Patriots more leeway to deal with his excessive cap hits scheduled for the next two seasons, but also give the Pats a chance to tailor the contract to the end of Brady's career.
There's no question Brady will want to play past 2014, and though the Pats might want to wait as long as possible to see if he begins to decline, they could get far better value with an extension now rather than taking the huge cap hits the next two seasons.
But at the end of the day this is Tom Brady we're talking about, he's earned every penny and will continue to get a monster paycheck until he really shows legitimate signs of decline.
- Tom Brady: $21.8 million
- Ryan Mallett: $803K