The New Orleans Saints are getting into OTAs without their head coach. Once the regular season begins, they will get underway without their offensive coordinator and general manager as well, causing a less than favorable start to the upcoming NFL campaign. If they also begin the year without their top overall player, can the Saints possibly expect to contend in a challenging division?
Sean Payton is not allowed to have anything to do with the team until after the next Super Bowl. Joe Vitt will be away for awhile, as will Mickey Loomis. While all of those are considerable losses for the team, no loss is bigger than not having Drew Brees in camp to lead New Orleans going forward.
And unfortunately, the way it appears right now, they may have to get used to the possibility of preparing for the 2012 NFL season minus Brees being under center.
The Saints slapped Brees with the franchise tag. And while that is well within their rights, it is being perceived as a slap in the face to Brees, as he has been the team’s – as well as the city’s, at times – savior.
Brees is slated to make $16.3 million in the 2012 season under the franchise tag guidelines, but he is nowhere near ready to sign that deal. He wants a long term contract to ensure stability, and, given what he has meant to this team as well as seeing what other players at his position have received, Brees is not out of line in his request.
The New England Patriots paid Tom Brady. The Indianapolis Colts – and now the Denver Broncos – have paid Peyton Manning. The Philadelphia Eagles paid Michael Vick. Brees is only looking for a similar deal to the ones those elite quarterbacks received. And considering all of them signed a deal and have suffered major injuries, Brees is certainly within his rights in asking for a deal that would place him in the top two or three in the league. After all, his stats have proven he is worthy.
But if Brees does not report, what happens in New Orleans this season? In order to sign a long term deal before this season, Brees and the team have until July 16. After that, he can only play under the one year franchise tag salary. Brees can sit out the first 10 games of the season and play teh final six and still have the season count under free agency rules. He would receive a pro rated salary.
While both are hoping a deal can get done, what if one does not? What is Brees pulls a Sean Gilbert from 1994 and decides to sit out the entire season? After all, he is financially set for life. Maybe he should take the year off, along with his head coach, and let the Saints see what they are missing without their leader on the field. Maybe that would actually increase his value. Look what Manning got in Denver after being forced to sit out a year with a major injury.
If Brees sits out, how many games can the Saints expect to win in 2012? How many wins can Chase Daniel be expected to pick up leading the team? Considering the fact they have a very difficult schedule with two games against the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as well as tough matchups with the Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, the Saints would be lucky to win four or five games this season.
Maybe they should consider reaching out to Brees once again and asking him to fill in a blank check. It may be the only way to solve this issue.