With all of the media exposure the Saints have gotten this offseason due to “bountygate,” the one thing that is kind of being swept under the rug is the potential long-lasting effects of a brutal contract negotiation for star quarterback Drew Brees.
During the peak of the scandal, it was widely reported that the Saints were close to a deal with Brees. This turned out to be one-sided, as the agent for the elite quarterback says this was never true. But for the last month, talks have went from slim to non-existent. The idea of the two sides striking an agreement anytime soon seems to have the same odds.
In a fragile situation like this, the longer it goes on, the more long-term damage can be done. Remember that the Saints organization was a complete disaster with a losing culture before Brees walked through those doors. Tainted by the scandal or not, the Super Bowl title that resides within the SuperDome is largely due to #9. No one refutes that. Well, no one except Mickey Loomis, apparently.
Back when the two sides were reported to be “close,” Loomis famously told sources close to the team that he viewed Brees as “very good, but not great” as his reasoning for being able to get a deal done. If Brees is only good and not great, all of the passing records in NFL history might be shattered once Brees does become “great.”
But the real question at this point is if it is even a possibility that New Orleans lets Brees get away in 2013. It seems ludicrous to think about, but if things get really nasty and there are bitter feelings on both sides, crazier things have happened. Did you ever think you’d see Peyton Manning or Joe Montana wearing different uniforms than their originals?
Brees is under the franchise tag for 2012 at a hefty $16.3 million and one would think they would simply franchise him again if the two sides can’t make a deal. But that number would go up 120 percent of the 2012 number, as required by the CBA. And if they still did that, they’d be looking at 144 percent in 2014. You get the point, and given that this is a worst case scenario. We all know that if a deal isn’t magically agreed to by the May 22nd OTA’s date, this could linger all season on a team that will be facing enough demons and challenges.
The bottom line is that if New Orleans can’t meet the reported $23-$25 million per that Brees and his agent are looking for, well there are plenty of quarterback starved teams out there that probably would.
I still believe the team will buckle and get a deal done before the July 16th deadline to negotiate long-term contracts for franchised players. The Saints organization has done a lot of questionable to downright stupid things in their long history, but even they can’t be this dumb, right?