Sportswriters and Finance: Worst Parlay Ever.Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports has written a piece saying, in effect, that Tom Brady is unhappy the Patriots haven't begun negotiating a new contract for him yet, since he's on the last year of his current deal. By contrast, the piece notes, Colts owner Jim Irsay has already stated Peyton Manning will get a new deal, probably this summer, that'll be the richest ever for an NFL player.
Silver's work has never struck a chord deep in my soul, or even on its surface. But without impugning his credentials in any way, I must point out that SOMEBODY associated with that story is being very dumb about money, either the author or its subject. Based on my prior experiences with Brady, he'd have to have changed a lot in the last five years for it to be him.
This situation is as simple as finance gets. It is overwhelmingly in Brady's interest not to even begin to negotiate a deal with the Pats until Manning signs his contract. Why be the contract floor when you can be the next ceiling? If negotiating and poker are similar, and they are in some ways, we should remember that sitting in the big blind is considered to offer a player an advantage.
Set fun fan arguments aside. From the perspective of paying them, Brady and Manning are quarterbacks of equal and nearly incalculable value. Ergo, when they get their new deals, the numbers should be and surely will be roughly the same.
So who should set the market for the two QBs? Assuming both of them have brain one, and they do, it's clearly Manning. He's already heard his owner promise the deal will be a record-breaker. Why should Brady twitch until he sees what the new record is? In effect, the longer Brady waits, the more he gets to negotiate with Jim Irsay and not Bob Kraft. The second Manning signs his name to the Colts' contract, THEN Brady can, should and will begin dickering with New England, based on the following premise. "Of course, I'm better than Peyton. I should have the bigger deal."
He'll likely get it, too, although not by very much. Kraft and the Pats have their pride, and looking cheaper than the Colts would hurt said pride. After Manning signs, the pressure on the franchise to re-up Brady will become significantly more intense -- far too intense to resist. And in fairness, they don't want to resist. Kraft and Bill Belichick are cost-conscious, but they're not fools. If you can't pay Tom Brady the going rate, why the hell do you own and run a pro football team in the first place?
My guess is, Silver heard baffled grumbling from the Pats about the lack of contact with Brady's agents, and much less baffled, not to mention less sincere, grumbling from Brady on the subject. A hint of unhappiness is all it takes for Brady to gently remind the Pats who has the nut hand in this particular round of deals. God, my old pal Mike Felger will be at ShriekCon-Five for a week about this tale.
Among his other talents, Tom's always had a nifty touch with a ball fake.