New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady emerged in the top tier of ESPN's latest starting quarterback ratings.
According to ESPN Insider Field Yates (citing his colleague Mike Sando), Brady wound up with a 1.04 rating from a poll of 26 NFL insiders, a figure identical to those of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers:
"In an NFL Insider piece, ESPN's Mike Sando digs deep into ranking every starting NFL quarterback.
"There are four tiers in total, and the top tier consists of five quarterbacks. A familiar face is one of four quarterbacks tied for first in the rankings, as the New England Patriots' Tom Brady received a 1.04 rating from a poll of 26 league insiders (general managers, coaches, personnel men, etc.), a rating matched by Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.
"Just one out of the 26 voters gave Brady a vote lower than '1' (the highest score on the 1-5 scale), representing a league-wide perception of how he is viewed.
"One offensive assistant shared this sentiment with Sando,'Brady might be the best because he does it with the least every year, just about. To me, there is no falloff with that guy. If he played with what Rodgers and Peyton and Brees have played with, it would not even be close.'
"Quarterback rankings are always a unique conversation starter, as was witnessed earlier this offseason when Pro Football Focus did not include Brady among the five best in the game.
"There's not a right or wrong answer when it comes to where a player deserves to be on a pecking order, especially with substantial development and change from one year to the next.
"If we had to cast our own ballot, we'd agree that Brady is among one of the elite talents at the position, if not the best in the game. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has routinely said there's no other quarterback he'd rather have on his team than the soon-to-be 37-year-old, a sentiment that isn't likely to end soon."
In a blog he wrote on July 1, Yates argues Brady represents the NFL's biggest bargain:
"But considering the position he plays, the scale of compensation for players at his position around the league and what we know he brings to the team both on and off the field, we'd make the case that perhaps no Patriots player represents a bigger bargain than quarterback Tom Brady, despite the fact he has the team's highest cap number for 2014 at $14.8 million.
"However, that cap number places Brady as tied for 11th among NFL quarterbacks for 2014 (and again, remember there are several starters who are on rookie contracts). Names above Brady on that list include the (St. Louis) Rams' Sam Bradford, the (Detroit) Lions' Matthew Stafford and the (New York) Giants' Eli Manning (who tops the list).
"Brady signed a contract extension during the 2013 offseason that keeps him in New England through the 2017 season. The deal totaled five years and $57 million. There's an inherent risk to signing a player who will be 40 entering the final season of said deal, but if Brady continues to play at his current performance level, an average of $11.4 million for an elite quarterback is an exceptional bargain."
Brady is entering his 15th NFL season. He has amassed 49,149 passing yards, 359 touchdowns and 134 interceptions on a 93.8 passer rating, per ESPN stats.