Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

Many of Tom Brady's higher-paid peers had atrocious weeks, reminding us once again of TB12's amazing value

Alex Reimer
September 11, 2018 - 1:24 pm

Over the last two years, six quarterbacks have signed extensions worth more than $100 million. Four of those pass-throwers –– Matt Ryan, Jimmy Garoppolo, Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr –– had abysmal starts to the 2018 campaign. 

It’s another reminder of Tom Brady’s value –– as if we needed another one. 

It’s an old story to talk about how underpaid Brady is in comparison to other quarterbacks across the league. We did for almost the entire month of August, after Brady inked an incentive-laden deal that can bump his annual salary up to $20 million, provided he finishes in the top five in QB rating, completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown passes and passing yards. In other words, Brady must enjoy another career year at 41 in order to get paid like Sam Bradford. 

This article isn’t meant to serve as a sympathetic rallying cry for Brady, either. He’s earned more than $217 million in his playing career and was the highest-paid QB for a brief period in 2010 when he inked a four-year, $72 million extension with $48.5 million guaranteed, Plus, Aston Martin and Tag Heuer almost certainly pay Brady well to endorse their luxury products. (He's married to Gisele Bundchen, too, who's made hundreds of millions on her own.) 

Still, it is amazing to look at how Brady’s better-paid –– and much younger –– peers often struggle on a weekly basis. This week, the foursome of Ryan, Garoppolo, Stafford and Carr combined to go 92-of-162 (57 percent) for 1,101 yards (275.25 yards per game) with two touchdowns and 11 interceptions between them. Their average QB rating was 53.3.

Brady, meanwhile, went 26-of-39 for 277 yards with three touchdown passes and one interception on a tipped ball. 

Each of the aforementioned four quarterbacks was lousy in their own way. Ryan once again struggled in the red zone, keeping up a two-year trend. The Falcons QB, and one-time MVP, is 1-for-20 when targeting stud wideout Julio Jones in the end zone since the end of 2016. 

Garoppolo showed moments of brilliance in San Francisco’s road loss to the Vikings –– airing out a dazzling 22-yard touchdown pass to Dante Pettis while rolling out of the pocket –– but was too careless with the football overall. He threw a pick-six, which Stafford did on Monday as well. In fact, the Lions QB threw four interceptions against the Jets, perhaps because the Gang Green knew which plays were coming. 

"We were calling out their plays as he was getting up to the line,” linebacker Darron Lee said after the game, per USA Today. “We knew his signals. We knew everything. That’s just preparation as a defense. … It just seemed like we were in his head as a defense.”

Talk about a complete system failure. Much of the blame falls on Bill Belichick disciple Matt Patricia, who somehow didn’t pick up on this in practice, despite holding a degree in rocket science. But Stafford presumably watches film of himself, too. How did he not notice he was tipping his hand?

Carr’s performance in the nightcap wasn’t as atrocious, though he did fall apart in the second half. Marcus Peters returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown and the capper. 

None of those four teams can be blamed for shelling out the big money, either. That’s the market rate for elite QB’s, and in Ryan’s case, he was coming off an MVP season in 2016. Though Garoppolo only started seven games in his career before signing his (briefly) record-setting deal this offseason, he showed multiple flashes of brilliance. As we know, Belichick seemingly viewed him as Brady's heir apparent

The most questionable calls were Stafford and Carr, but when you’re a moribund franchise like the Lions and Raiders, sometimes you take what you have. Stafford has thrown for at least 4,000 yards in each of the last seven years, and Carr signed his extension on the heels of a season in which he threw for 3,937 yards with 28 touchdowns and just six picks. 

Watching games on a weekly basis gives us more reasons to appreciate Brady. It even happens when watching Aaron Rodgers. Though the Packers QB led an incredible comeback Sunday night, he suffered an MCL sprain and was forced to leave the game on a stretcher. As John Tomase points out, Brady doesn’t get hurt, either. 

After an offseason littered with Patriots turmoil, we are once again marveling at Brady and laughing at almost everybody else. Order to the football universe has been restored.