The New Orleans Saints have been reluctant to just hand over a blank check to their franchise quarterback Drew Brees, for reasons unbeknownst to anyone. After receiving the decision by the NFL Commissioner’s office that head coach Sean Payton will be suspended for the entire 2012 NFL season, as well as other coaches and management, the Saints need Brees more this season than any other in the past, simply to hold the team together.
But they still have been unable to come to terms on a long term agreement, meaning Brees is currently only slated to play under the one year franchise tag salary guidelines, which would pay him a little more than &16 million for one year. While it is far from chump change, watching other quarterback cash in on mega contracts, including Peyton Manning and Michael Vick, continues to irk Brees that the Saints will not do the same for him.
But after hearing of the ruling by an arbitrator in Brees’ grievance case that gave him a victory against the Saints, could New Orleans finally feel more pressure to give Brees what he deserves, which is a long term deal that would make him one of the highest paid players in the league?
The ruling will not alter what Brees would earn under the current franchise salary guidelines this season. But the wording in the NFL was a bit fuzzy, stating a player could not be tagged more than three times. But it never clearly stated whether that was three times by one team, or three times over one’s career. Brees was tagged by the San Diego Chargers in 2005, so this is his second tagging. That means that it would cost the Saints over $23 million if they were to tag Brees again after this season, raising his annual salary to around $20 million over the next two years.
That means it may just be easier to reach an agreement on a long term contract that should satisfy both parties involved. The problem is, the pressure is on the Saints at this point. If a player does not sign a long term deal by July 16, they can only play the upcoming season under the one year franchise tag deal. A long term contract cannot be reached after the deadline that is only a little over one week away.
Brees could hold out and skip training camp. In fact, he could sit out until Week 10 of the 2012 NFL season and just play the final six games with the prorated $16 million and still satisfy his deal for the year. It would clearly affect the Saints far more than it would Brees.
So at this point, the ball is still in the Saints’ court, but the pressure to sign Brees long term is growing. And since owner Tom Benson also owns the New Orleans Hornets but is on the verge of losing his best player – Eric Gordon – to the Phoenix Suns, he should be able to sue that allotted money to hand over to Brees.