Did the Patriots really use Tom Brady’s contract extension to troll the Falcons?

New England quarterback Tom Brady practices with the Patriots on June 5 in Foxborough, Mass.
(Charles Krupa / Associated Press)

Tom Brady’s new contract with the New England Patriots is weird. But the two parties had their reasons for structuring it the way they did.

One of them appears to be to troll the Atlanta Falcons. Yet again.

Reports came out Sunday that the Patriots had given their six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback a two-year extension that would keep him under contract through 2021. Under the new deal, Brady would reportedly make $23 million this season ($8 million more than what he was slated to receive under his previous deal), $30 million in 2020 and $32 million in 2021.

But according to multiple media reports Monday, the final two years of the contract are actually void. In structuring the deal the way they apparently did, though, the Patriots get $5.5 million in salary cap relief this season. Brady still gets a significant raise for 2019 and can become a free agent during the offseason, with the Patriots not having the option to place franchise or transition tags on the 42-year-old quarterback.


It’s complicated, but seems to make sense. But here’s a question — how did they come up with the salaries for the two void years of the contract? Since Brady isn’t actually going to get paid that money, are they just random numbers that just popped into someone’s head? Or is there a deeper meaning?

Yahoo’s Chris Cwik has an interesting theory. If Brady played all three years under that contract, he’d earn an annual salary of $28.3 million.

Now replace that decimal point with a hyphen.

Yep, 28-3 — a.k.a. the lead the Falcons had over the Patriots in Super Bowl LI before Brady led his teammates to a comeback victory.

Coincidence? Sure, just like they just accidentally put exactly 283 diamonds on their Super Bowl rings from that year. Those rings, by the way, were presented to the players in cases that could be opened only with the combination 8-3-1 — there just happened to have been 8 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the third quarter when New England began its comeback against the Falcons.

Here’s another conspiracy theory involving Brady’s contract. SB Nation’s Pat Lane thinks the Patriots purposely made Brady the sixth-highest-paid player in the league to reference his (and their) six Super Bowl victories, thus trolling the rest of the league.

Why not? These are the Patriots. This is the kind of thing they do.