Sports journalism is full of cliché and hyperbole.
When discussing Tom Brady, though, it’s pretty hard to overspeak. The guy probably cashed more NFL betting lines than anyone else in NFL history.
As part of my standard offseason odds analysis, I evaluated the evolution of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ roster over the last few years.
One big thing jumped out at me. In my opinion, it’s the single biggest reason why Brady has been so successful in the postseason.
I first noticed it several years ago when Brady was still in New England.
It’s something I cited on my podcast, The Lion’s Edge, as a big reason Tampa won the Super Bowl in Brady’s first year in Tampa.
I’ve never written about it, though. So here goes. Let’s put it in ink.
Tom Brady: 7 Rings And Counting
Brady has cracked a crucial piece of the NFL championship formula that no one else seems to understand.
It’s pretty simple: Tom Brady takes far less money than most other top quarterbacks.
In New England, this was the Patriots’ elite salary hack. Robert Kraft’s front office figured out that they could pay less money to their quarterback, running backs and receivers and, in turn, afford a vast middle class of defensive playmakers that would form the backbone of the team.
Once Rob Gronkowski came along, the roster was so finely-tuned that it was more shocking when the Patriots didn’t win the Super Bowl.
Even in 2018 – when the Pats won their most recent Super Bowl, and Brady already had a good case as the greatest quarterback ever – TB12 took only $22 million. He wasn’t one of the 10 highest-paid quarterbacks in the league.
The guy at the top of that list in 2018? That would be Brady’s former teammate, Jimmy Garoppolo. His cap number was a full $15 million higher in San Francisco.
In 2020, when Brady won his seventh Super Bowl, he again left some money on the table to ensure Tampa could fill out the roster. He took less money than Garoppolo, Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson and even Jared Goff.
Remember how enthralled everyone was that Tampa held all of its starters together through the 2021 offseason?
You already know the answer. Brady restructured his deal.
Tom Brady: Bruce Arians Might Be Gone, But Salary Is Still Low
Brady is still signed to a middle-class deal, by quarterback standards, which means there’s still plenty of cash to go around in Tampa Bay.
In a purely financial sense, it’s easy to give Brady too much credit for leaving money on the table. He’s had a dramatically longer career to pile up earnings than almost any other player in the history of the NFL.
He’s also married to a supermodel that earns even more money than he does. So their checking account is probably not in any immediate danger.
In a firm sports conversation, though, Brady deserves a ton of credit for understanding the relationship between salary cap, quarterback pay and championship competitiveness.
This year, the Bucs will have to break in Todd Bowles as the successor to Bruce Arians, but they still have their huge financial advantage in Brady.
In what is almost certainly Brady’s last year, he’ll have an $11.9 million cap hit, which ranks No. 17 in the NFL.
Brady has as many individual championships (7) as the combined number of the 16 quarterbacks who will make more money than him this season.
Even funnier: one of them (Garoppolo) only has two rings in the first place because he got them while backing up Brady.
Three (Goff, Wilson, Matt Ryan) have lost in the Super Bowl playing against a Brady team.
Don’t Bet Against Tom Brady
You would think that Brady would be satisfied with how his career turned out, but evidently, he still feels like he has something to prove.
I thought it was an excellent way to put it. (You can catch the whole episode on iTunes, Spotify or wherever else you listen to podcasts – including the web player at the bottom of this article.)
Either way, anyone from the online sports betting space who understands the impact of Brady’s contract decision has to be paying close attention to the Bucs’ NFL odds this season.
As of this writing, they’re +325 to win the NFC and +750 to win the Super Bowl.
Gronkowski probably isn’t walking back through that locker room door, but it might not matter. We have plenty of history.
As much as I hate to say it… don’t bet against Tom Brady.
Football Betting at BetMGM
BetMGM is the premier sportsbook for football betting.
Each week during the NFL season, you can bet on spreads, over/under totals, player props, and more. You also have access to parlays – including One Game Parlays and parlay promotions – and live sports betting.
Check out the NFL betting page to get closer to the action!