By Gregory Hunt

NFL sources are reporting that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has agreed to restructure his contract with the team, giving the team an extra $24 million in cash to spend on free agents during the upcoming off-season. Several key New England players are scheduled to become free agents after this season, including cornerback Darrelle Revis, safety Devin McCourty, tackle Nate Solder and running back Shane Vereen.

This restructuring differs from the one that occurred when Brady signed a contract extension shortly after the 2012 season. That deal was designed to free up room underneath the salary cap, but under the new deal, Brady’s hit against the cap actually increases by $1 million for each of the next three seasons — $7 million in 2015, $8 million in 2016 and $9 million in 2017. What the new deal does is give the Patriots more cash on hand to pay generous bonuses in lieu of guaranteed salaries. In other words, while the deal doesn’t save the team any money, it gives the team a great deal of flexibility when it comes to contract negotiations.

The cash was freed when Brady and his agent Don Yee agreed to change the classification of $24 million that was guaranteed under the old contract. Previously, that money was due to Brady through 2017 regardless of whether he was cut from the team or had his career cut short due to an injury. Now that money, plus an extra $3 million, is guaranteed only in the event of an injury. Without the new deal, the team would have been required to place $24 million in an escrow account.

Essentially, Brady is making a $3 million bet on himself. Under the new contract, he is now due to make a total $27 million whether he gets hurt or continues to play for the Patriots through 2017. However, if the Patriots decide to cut him prior to the end of the contract, Brady will forfeit the remaining money due to him from that point, and that money will no longer count against the team’s salary cap. Although Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has a reputation for cutting players — even star players — when it’s financially advantageous to do so, it seems unlikely that he would do that to a star quarterback with whom he’s had so much success.

Brady Thrilled With Michigan’s New Head Football Coach

As an alum of the University of Michigan, Brady has been watching the school’s head football coaching situation rather closely. During a radio interview on Monday, Brady gave his endorsement of Jim Harbaugh, the former San Francisco 49ers head coach who was officially named the Wolverines’ head football coach on Tuesday.

“Obviously, the program at Michigan has not been in the best of places for one reason or another,” said Brady. “[Harbaugh] brings a lot of credibility and winning. He’s been a great coach in college and the pros. To have a great coach like that lead a program is awesome.”

Brady attended Michigan from 1996-1999, starting at quarterback his final two seasons. Harbaugh was also a quarterback at Michigan from 1983-1986, and he finished 3rd in the Heisman Trophy voting his senior year.

For more Patriots news and updates, visit Patriots Central.

Gregory Hunt is a Boston native and a life-long fan of the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics. He’s also particularly fond of lacrosse, IndyCar racing and women’s college basketball. He currently works for Examiner.com where he serves as the Senior Manager of Content and Media Access. He also writes for Examiner.com as the New England Patriots Examiner. His work can be found on aExaminer.com.

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