New Orleans Saints say franchise tag a last minute option

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New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis (right) talks with quarterback Drew Brees (9). Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

The New Orleans Saints have said that they will wait until the last possible minute to use the franchise tag on anyone, and that includes superstar quarterback Drew Brees.

Team can begin applying franchise tags to players on Monday, February 20th.

With that date approaching, and contract negotiations still going on between General Manager Mickey Loomis, Drew Brees, and agent Tom Condon, the Saints could be forced to tag the star quarterback.

The two sides previously attempted to get a deal done during the regular season, but the “money” was far off the mark.

Brees ultimately decided to hold off on negotiations until after the season was complete so it wasn’t a distraction for the team as they headed into the playoffs.

In 2011, Brees broke Dan Marino’s single-season passing record, finishing the season with 5,476 yards passing.

Brees also set league records for completions with 468 while having a record completion rate of 71.2 percent.

To add to his accomplishments, Brees was named FedEx Air Player of the Year and received the Offensive Player of the Year award.

He fell short in MVP voting however, when Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers received the award in favor of Brees.

It’s no secret that the New Orleans Saints will keep Drew around for a long time, and he will remain in black and gold for the rest of his career.

The Saints have a lot of their plate with Drew Brees expected to become the highest paid quarterback in the NFL with a deal for five or six years in excess of $100 million dollars.

This is based on recent contracts for players like like Tom Brady, who received a contract for four-years worth $72 million, and Peyton Manning who received a five-year deal worth $90 million.

If a deal is not complete by the franchise tag deadline of March 5th, the Saints will be forced to place the tag on Brees.

This could come at a cost with Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks and wide receiver Marques Colston both becoming unrestricted free agents.

It would certainly mean that one of the two, if not both, could be on their way out of the Big Easy.

So what is the cap situation in New Orleans?

Under the new CBA teams are now allowed to carry over the remaining salary cap from the previous year.

The Saints have $4.2 million in carryover from 2011. They can also “borrow” $2 million from future years, which given the situation this season, I believe they do.

This season there is a cap expected to be $120 million dollars, and they have roughly $94 million dollars committed already.

This will leave the Saints with about $32 million dollars in cap space for the 2012 season.

If the New Orleans Saints decide to cut DE Will Smith. and LB Jonathan Vilma, before the 15th day of the league year, they would instantly free up $11.35 million in cap space.

Both players could decide to restructure their contracts though instead of being release, and it’s no gurantee either will be put on the trading block.

Defensive end Will Smith currently is the highest paid player on the Saints roster.

He signed a six year deal worth $61.4 million with the black and gold in 2008.

The deal included $25 million in guaranteed money.  He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2015, with a club option in 2014.

Should the New Orleans Saints have to use the franchise tag on quarterback Drew Brees, league estimates say it should come at a cost of a little over $16 million.

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Topics: 2012 Free Agency, Dallas Cowboys, Drew Brees, Franchise Tag, Jonathan Vilma, Marques Colston, Mickey Loomis, New Orleans Saints, NFL, San Francico 49ers, St. Louis Rams, Will Smith

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