In what has been the most lingering story of the offseason, apart from Bountygate, Drew Brees is still not under contract with the New Orleans Saints. And with the deadline for a long-term deal coming up, many of the sources close to the situation are starting to suggest that Brees may indeed play under the franchise tag next year.
While New Orleans is in no real danger of losing Drew Brees (yet), this can become quite the messy issue. The franchise tag this season would pay Brees $16.371 million for one year. Which is about the going rate for a quarterback of his talents, it seems. But next year, the Saints could be on the hook for nearly 20 percent of the projected salary cap in 2013, which would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $23.57 million.
Besides the obvious monetary issues this would cause, if New Orleans brass lets this happen, you’ve just caused yet another distraction to a team that already seems to be carrying the offseason turmoil onto the field this season. And the last thing this recently battered franchise needs is a contract dispute all season hanging over its head.
Then the whole resentment issue might kick in. Brees is unquestionably a top 3 player in the league and when you’re fortunate enough to have one of them, well you’re just going to have to pay to keep them. And pay dearly. One way or the other, New Orleans is going to pay.
The options for Brees are actually pretty good, as he will have more leverage than you’d think. He could always do what Albert Haynesworth did and insist on a clause that states that the Saints cannot tag him again in 2013. Then, you have some real drama if Brees actually is able to hit the market at the end of the year.
Either way, Brees is going to get his and the Saints would be wise to just bite the bullet and give it to him. Tom Benson has to remember what the organization was like prior to Brees’ tenure under center. This is why I believe that an agreement will be reached in the eleventh hour, if need be. You don’t let a guy let Brees get away, nor do you want to pay him that much for him to just be unhappy.
Brees seems to be pretty headstrong and a reasonable guy. But to think that there would be “no hard feelings” after a nasty negotiation that was never fully resolved is foolish. Mickey Loomis is playing with fire here and he’s likely to get burned if he doesn’t stop with the hardball antics.
As I’ve said in the past, if New Orleans doesn’t want to meet Drew Brees’ monetary demands, I’m sure twenty-something other NFL teams would probably exceed them.