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Robert Kraft on Tom Brady deal: ‘I just really want to end his career as a Patriot’

03.04.13 at 7:05 am ET
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Patriots owner Robert Kraft said the impetus for Tom Brady‘s new three-year, $27 million contract was the fact that Kraft did not want Brady to finish his career elsewhere, he told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King.

“I presented an idea to him that I thought could work for both sides,” Kraft said. “We’re taking a chance making this commitment, and he’s taking one, in terms of his ability to maximize pay. I just thought if winning is the most important thing to him, and I think it is, and it certainly is to our family, this gives us the best chance to win. Hopefully we have an elite quarterback that, even if his skills decline even a little bit, he’ll still be better than 90 percent of the quarterbacks in the league. And his legacy — I already believe he’s the greatest of all time — if we win one or two more, he can solidify that.”

Kraft said he broached the idea of extending Brady’s deal when the two flew from Boston to Los Angeles together the week after the AFC championship loss to the Ravens, after thinking about it for “three or four years.”

“I was probably wearing my fan hat as much as anything else,” Kraft said. “I just didn’t want to ever see this become like Joe Montana leaving San Francisco, Emmitt Smith leaving Dallas, Brett Favre leaving Green Bay, Peyton Manning leaving Indianapolis. If Tom Brady played out this current contract and left us, there was no doubt in my mind that someone out there would pay him top dollar, and they should, for his ability, his leadership and his unselfishness.

“I was just trying to stay ahead of the curve. If we were going to have to pay him elite-quarterback money and have elite-quarterback cap numbers, I just didn’t think we would be able to build a team. We don’t want to have a team where we’re paying 18 to 20 percent to a player on the cap. I wanted to do something elegant that would work for everybody. I had been talking to him off and on for maybe 18 months, about how I wanted him to finish his career here, and about how we both have to be smart about it. I just really want him to end his career a Patriot.”

There has been speculation that because Brady accepted less than what he could have received on the open market, the two have a handshake agreement for the QB to be compensated down the road, perhaps even before this contract plays out. Kraft denied that, as well as a suggestion that Brady only agreed after receiving an assurance that teammate Wes Welker would get some of the money the team saved on Brady.

“No, no, no. This is a real deal,” Kraft insisted. “Look at our track record. We don’t do fake deals. The contract we have with Tom Brady is a real contract we will both live by.”

Added Kraft: “I am glad we are able to take negotiations out of this relationship for the next five years. Look, I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next five years. No one can know. But this move, strategically, helps us be in a position to win. We’re going to spend to the cap. Tom knows that it’s not like whatever we don’t pay him we’re putting in the Kraft family pocket. He gets it, and now he’s rooting for us to make the right decisions in building the team. By the way, I have heard that it’s been reported Tom made demands about who he wanted us to sign. Absolutely not. It never happened.

“I credit Tom for doing the right thing and thinking outside the box. That’s what we’re trying to do as an organization, and certainly what Bill Belichick tries to do as a coach. If you don’t have a good coach and a quarterback, you don’t have much of a chance to win. We are fortunate that we have both who are way above par. Tom is everything that we want.

“In life, the best deals are the deals that are good for both sides. You have to understand what is most important for both parties. You do the deals that work well both ways. I’m not sure we will ever see anyone like him again. Being the 199th pick in the draft, I think he’s always worked harder and fought harder, and I think he’s able to think differently because nothing has ever been handed to him. I wanted to get this done fast so we could create room for free agency, room on the cap over the next two years when the cap was too tight. If this thing took three or four months, we would have lost that window.”

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