One of the biggest reasons for the Patriots' success over the years has been their players taking less money than they could get elsewhere in order to stay with the team.
Appearing on The Ringer's "GM Street" podcast, former Patriots executive Mike Lombardi weighed in on Matt Ryan's massive new contract and how that could impact Tom Brady.
Lombardi believes Brady, as well as Rob Gronkowski, are done taking less money than they deserve.
"What I think is going on in New England, and this is just my own instinct, I think when you win five Super Bowls and you’ve had as much success as they’ve had and they have all swallowed the ‘we’re not making all this money’ routine, ‘we’re not taking all the coin.’ They have done that and I think now is the time where they are all saying to themselves, ‘it’s money time,’" Lombardi said. "Brady, for all what he is saying about how unhappy he is, and the same thing with Gronk, I think it comes down to contract and how couldn’t it? How could you look there and see Matt Ryan and what he’s making and you have five rings. How could you see what Kirk Cousins just got and it not affect you. It’s just human nature, right? You can’t fault Brady for that. You can’t.
"… It’s so far removed. It isn’t about guaranteed money, it is about respect by your peers. You are the best player in the NFL. You have won the MVP, Super Bowls. The reality of it is you want to get paid like the top players because you’re walking around like how much more can you take like that? Tim Duncan got out before it became a problem and I think eventually it becomes a problem. Tim Duncan couldn’t play anymore, it wasn’t a problem. Brady is still playing at a high level, it’s a problem.”
Brady is the 16th highest-paid quarterback in the league, while Gronkowski is the fourth highest-paid tight end. Both players have their current contracts expiring at the end of the 2019 season and reportedly want new deals before the start of the 2018 season.