Tom Brady Earns More Than $20 Million Per Year. Is He Overpaid?

He may be 40, but New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is arguably the best player in the NFL. But just based on his salary, you wouldn’t have any idea that’s the case.

Brady’s average $20.5 million per year puts him in the middle of the pack in terms of quarterback money. In June 2017, he ranked as the 14th highest-paid quarterback, based on average salary per year. He is certainly far behind the likes of top-paid quarterback Matthew Stafford, who earns an average $27 million per year. While Brady doesn’t come cheap to the Patriots, he certainly deserves more than a middle-of-the-road salary. Here are eight reasons why Tom Brady is the most underpaid quarterback of all time.

1. Quarterback comparison

Matthew Stafford throws a pass against the Seahawks.

Matthew Stafford makes a lot more than Tom Brady. | Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Many quarterbacks who are getting paid more than Brady probably shouldn’t be. Here are just a few of them who (unfairly?) earn more than Brady’s $20.5 million per year.

Matthew Stafford: The Detroit Lions signed quarterback Matthew Stafford to the largest deal in NFL history in a contract extension in August 2017. Stafford will receive an average of $27 million per year. If Stafford is worth such a high salary, then Brady should be able to command much more. Rather, he looks like a bargain bin discount by comparison.

Joe Flacco: The Baltimore Ravens QB formerly known as “January Joe” was once called an elite player. However, his performance has been lackluster for the past three seasons – yet his average salary of $22.1 million is still going strong. A side-by-side comparison of his post-season stats to Brady’s shows the pay scales may be tipped in the wrong player’s favor.

Eli Manning: Based on his two Super Bowl titles, Eli Manning has become an elite-level franchise quarterback deserving of his high salary of $21 million. However, he has struggled and often been inconsistent throughout his 14-year career, only having taken the Giants to postseason play once since 2011. Based on this, it’s hard to argue he should be making more money than Brady.

Next: Don’t forget the record Brady shattered last year.

2. Most QB Super Bowl wins in NFL history

Tom Brady holding a trophy

Like it or not, Brady is the all-time champ. | Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images

Brady has quarterbacked the Patriots to five Super Bowls wins. With his fifth Super Bowl ring in 2017, Brady surpassed Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana for the most Super Bowl wins for a quarterback in NFL history. As hard as it is to win an NFL Super Bowl, Brady’s five wins for the Pats came in clusters: three titles in four years and two titles in three years.

In fact, Brady has now joined former defensive end Charles Haley as the only two overall players in NFL history to have five Super Bowl rings.

Next: Could Brady shatter more records?

3. Passing yards, completions, touchdown passes

Tom Brady

Brady wants to play until age 45. | Donald Miralle/Getty Images

If Brady plays until age 45, which he said he plans to do, he could completely rewrite the NFL’s regular season passing record book. Here are some impressive career stats.

All-time passing yards: Coming out of the 2017 season, Brady remains fourth in this category, with a total of 66,159 yards. The current No. 1 player in this category, Peyton Manning, racked up 71,940 all-time passing yards.

Pass completions: Brady continues to rank fourth all time for this category, with 5,629. The top number to beat is Brett Favre’s 6,300.

Touchdown passes: Brady is now third for career NFL passing touchdowns, with 488. Again, Peyton Manning holds the top number to beat, with a total of 539.

Next: He’s the key person behind the dynasty.

4. He built a dynasty in New England

(L-R) Robert Kraft, owner and CEO of the New England Patriots, head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady.

(L-R) Robert Kraft, owner and CEO of the New England Patriots, head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady. | Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Brady has been the foundation of the all-time NFL great dynasty the Patriots have become. Over the years, he has built up the franchise to its current state along with head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft. In fact, there has been no more dominant force in the NFL over the past 20 years than the Patriots. Brady has been the cornerstone that carried the team through its victories, changes, and controversies. As such, he deserves top-notch pay.

Next: An absurdly low salary cap number

5. A cap number of just $14 million

Year after year, the Patriots somehow manage to dominate. | JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images

In March of 2017, it was reported the Patriots had $62.3 million in cap space, with Brady’s bargain bin contract counting just $14 million against the cap in 2017. That number was set to rise to $22 million for Brady in 2018. When quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett were still on the team’s roster, the Patriots used 5.1% less cap space for quarterbacks than the average NFL team. Rather than providing gradually more cap space to Brady, when his cap number hits $22 million, the Patriots may have figured out how to lower it again, some speculate.

Next: San Francisco called looking for a quarterback.

6. Any other team would take him

Blaine Gabbert #2 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

After several lackluster seasons, the 49ers tried to pick up Brady in 2017. It didn’t work. | Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Not only would any other team still grab up Tom Brady at 40, but they would likely pay him more money. Teams that would jump at this chance may include the Baltimore Ravens (this could be the time to replace Joe Flacco) and the New York Jets (they’re moving along in their rebuild, flush with cap space). And, who can forget a rookie general manager on the San Francisco 49ers calling Belichick in November 2017 to ask if Brady was available? (No word on how much money they were willing to offer.)

Next: The real reason he’s paid so little?

7. He shouldn’t be used as a negotiating advantage

There will never be another Tom Brady. | Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Thanks to Brady’s lower-end salary, the Patriots may have been able to keep their overall payroll costs down. They can tell prospective new players that no one on the team will make more money than Brady – thus guaranteeing no contracts will need to involve higher pay than Brady’s. This strategy may alienate some valuable prospects.

Next: Who could ever replace Brady?

8. Brady is irreplaceable

Yet again, Tom Brady leads the Patriots to the Super Bowl. | Jim Rogash/Getty Images

There’s no replacing Tom Brady. When it’s time for the Patriots to find another quarterback (and they’ll probably draft one in April 2018), they may get one as good as Jimmy Garoppolo. But it would obviously be a mistake to expect that player to measure up to Brady. If they’re lucky, he may eventually do so, but the franchise could spend many years building itself back up to its heyday of the Brady dynasty. Someone whose shoes are impossible to fill definitely shouldn’t be making a mediocre salary.

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