Tom Brady had 15 million good reasons to kill this retirement report

Now everything makes sense. Also, dollars and cents.

For a brief jaw-dropping moment on Saturday, Adam Schefter’s tweet announcing Tom Brady’s retirement sent the sports world on Twitter. The greatest quarterback of all time hanging up his boots after 22 seasons and seven Super Bowl titles was the biggest NFL story of the year, and the latest news alerts lit up cellphones and devices all over the world.

The latest news of Brady’s retirement certainly didn’t come as a shock – Brady himself hinted at such a prospect from when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were knocked out of the NFL Playoffs by the Rams of Los Angeles last Sunday. Even Brady’s health and wellness company TB12 Sports appeared to confirm Schefter’s report with its own tweet congratulating Brady on his retirement.

But the way the news came out on Saturday seemed very unusual. Three days after Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announced his retirement with a social media post, why didn’t the news about Brady come directly from him?

The tune was effectively removed from Brady’s retirement story. But why?

The mystery only deepened over the next few hours on Saturday, as one Brady substitute after another went public to say that no, Brady hadn’t made up his mind and that, critically , the Buccaneers had not been informed.

TB12 Sports’ original tweet was quickly deleted, and Brady’s father, Tom Brady Sr., began making statements to various outlets that his son had made no such decision.

“This Mike story is total guesswork,” Brady Sr. told NFL Network’s Mike Giardi. “Tommy hasn’t made a final decision one way or the other and anyone who says he has is absolutely wrong.”

Later Saturday, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians confirmed that Brady had informed the team that his decision had not been made. Nothing was official.

“No, he doesn’t that we know of,” Arians told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “Agent [Donald Yee] has just told us that he has not made up his mind.

It all gave the appearance of an effort to try to backtrack on premature tweets and reports to give Brady the chance to reclaim the news cycle, as Roethlisberger had done, and make the announcement on his own terms.

But, more likely, it was the terms of Brady’s contract with the Buccaneers that drove events.

Brady’s agent offers the biggest clue to the real reason Brady told the story

Of all the statements and quotes that came out Saturday on Brady’s behalf, and apparently without any commentary from Brady directly, it was the statement released by Brady’s agent, Don Yee, that dropped the game.

“I understand the speculation that is being made about Tom’s future,” Yee said in a statement to media. “Without going into the accuracy or inaccuracy of what is reported, Tom will be the only person to express his plans with complete accuracy. He knows the realities of the football industry and the planning calendar as well as anyone, so it should be soon.

The key words in this statement are “planning schedule”.

While it makes perfect sense that Brady wants to control the media narrative and make the announcement on his terms, a la Roethlisberger, there’s also a financial incentive at play, which is why Yee mentioned “the realities of football.

Don’t let anyone fool you. It’s a big, big deal.

The devil is in the details of Brady’s contract with the Buccaneers

Sports contracting website put the whole retirement fiasco into context, even as conflicting reports circulated on Saturday. At 4:41 p.m. ET Saturday, Spotrac co-founder Michael Ginetti tweeted:

“FWIW: $15 million of Tom Brady’s $20 million signing bonus from last March is set to be paid on February 4, 2022. Sounds like something a guy or girl would want to have a process before formalize any career decision that will change his life.”

And There you go.

It is likely, if not certain, that Brady did indeed make the decision to retire, and had already communicated that decision to some people in orbit. Whether or not someone in the Buccaneers front office is in that orbit, it’s just as likely that Brady wasn’t going to officially make his decision until after $15 million hit his bank account. So when someone in that orbit leaked the news to Schefter, it sparked Team Tom’s panicked response.

Because officially announcing his retirement before Friday would put the $15 million at risk of being withheld by the Buccaneers, as would be their right.

So when Schefter tweeted his report on Saturday that Brady had retired, Brady’s surrogates were forced to back down immediately to protect the bonus. After all, Brady knows the realities of the football industry and the planning calendar as well as anyone.

Statistics courtesy of Professional Football Reference

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