• Tom Brady missed out on $5 million this season when he failed to finish in the top five of various statistical categories.
  • The New England Patriots restructured Brady's deal before the season, giving him more money upfront in 2019, but the incentives may have been a challenge for him to continue to prove himself.
  • Brady still finished near the top 10 in most of the categories and led the Patriots to an 11-5 record, but it's fair to wonder if, at 41, he's finally showing signs of decline.

Tom Brady didn't play to his usual standard in 2018, and it ended up costing him.

Before the season started, the New England Patriots restructured Brady's contract. They changed his signing bonus and base salary, giving him $10 million upfront, with a $4 million base salary, while locking him into more money in the future.

But the key move was giving him $5 million in incentives this year, tied to being among the top five of quarterbacks in passing yards, yards per attempt, touchdowns, completion percentage, and passer rating, according to Spotrac.

Brady didn't hit any of those numbers this year, so he missed out on $5 million, giving him a total of $15 million for 2018, a relatively low number for quarterbacks.

Brady finished 2018 with 4,355 yards (7th in the NFL), 29 touchdowns (10th), 65.8% completion (18th), 7.6 yards per attempt (14th), and a 97.7 passer rating (12th).

As noted at the time of the restructure, the Patriots seemed to be giving a hint about Brady's future. The commitment suggested he'll return to the team in 2019, but the incentives indicated the Patriots wanted Brady to prove he can still play like a top-5 quarterback.

Read more: The Patriots gave Tom Brady the chance to earn an extra $5 million this year, but it may come with a subtle message about his future

Ultimately, Brady was good enough to lead the Patriots to an 11-5 record and a first-round bye. But given the decrease in his numbers this year, it's worth wondering if this was the first sign of the 41-year-old quarterback finally showing some decline.

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