Tom Brady signs extension that ensures he'll retire a Patriot

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has always said he'd like to play until he's 40. The question has always been, will he be in a Patriot uniform?

After all, most quarterbacks known for their time with one franchise often don't end up retiring there. Just look at Joe Montana or Peyton Manning. Today, according to esteemed NFL writer Peter King, Brady's ensured he'll be the exception.

Peter King, SI:
Tom Brady took a huge step today to ensure he'll retire a Patriot, agreeing to a three-year contract extension that will keep him under center for New England through the 2017 season, when he will be 40 years old.

As King points out, Tom Brady is taking less money than he could get on the market. Once again in his career, he's choosing loyalty to an organization over money. Let's not get too excited though, I mean the guy is married to a woman that's worth $250 million.

Still, it's not often people - especially athletes - chose to do stuff like this. It's just another reason Patriots fans should take the time to appreciate who we have under center in New England.

The deal isn't completely guaranteed, however, once Brady hits 39 the team gets some flexibility.

Most importantly, the deal should help them re-sign Wes Welker. According to King, Brady's cap hit just got cut in half over the next two years. That should allow the Patriots some more room to sign players like Welker or maybe Talib. Brady constantly says the only thing he cares about is winning a championship, by doing this he's effectively allowed the Patriots more wiggle room to make a run the next couple of years as they will have an extra $15 million to work with.

Again, Brady has consistently said over his career that he cares more about winning a Super Bowl than money, awards, fame, etc. It's one thing to say that, but players almost never back up their words with their actions when it comes to money. Brady just has. Again.

Again, here's King.

"To be the highest-paid, or anything like that, is not going to make me feel any better,'' [Brady] said in 2005. "That's not what makes me happy. In this game, the more one player gets, the more he takes away from what others can get. Is it going to make me feel any better to make an extra million, which, after taxes, is about $500,000? That million might be more important to the team.''

In an important free agency period, when New England will be fighting to stay relevant and win its first Super Bowl since the 2004 season, they should have the financial ammunition to fortify the team. They could bolster the pass rush by signing free agent Dwight Freeney of the Colts, or the secondary by signing veteran safety Ed Reed, also a free agent. On offense, they could open the wallet to re-sign Brady's favorite receiver, Wes Welker, or maybe aim higher for a younger franchise receiver like Mike Wallace of the Steelers. All of a sudden, New England will have an additional $15 million of cap freedom while two-thirds of the teams in the league struggle to do anything in free agency because they're so snug to the cap.

Time for some speculation. You have to figure that Brady talked with the Patriots front office about Welker - the player he's called the "heart and soul" of the team. Would Brady be willing to sacrifice his own money to make sure his BFF is still there catching first downs? Based on the quote from King, hell yeah he would.

Brady probably might realize that the time for the Patriots to strike is now. As Brady gets older, he won't be able to carry the team in the way he can now. Signing not only Wes Welker but making some big acquisitions on defense to help this team win now.

This off-season just got a lot more interesting.