The New Orleans Saints have placed the exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Drew Brees, sources say.
They had until Monday, March 5th to apply the franchise tag on a player.
The franchise tag for a non-exclusive quarterback currently carries a $14.4 million salary cap hit, with the exclusive version expecting to be between $15 million and $16 million.
The exclusive version means teams can not contract Brees or offer him contracts, meaning that he remains property of the New Orleans Saints.
The exclusive franchise tag is used for when teams are negotiating contracts with players and a deal is not struck before the deadline.
Quarterback Peyton Manning has been franchise tagged twice by the Indianapolis Colts.
Drew Brees was coming off a spectacular season in 2011 where he and the Saints shattered many NFL and franchise records.
In 2011, Brees set single-season records for passing yards (5,476), completion rate (71.2%) and total completions (468) and lead the league with 46 touchdown passes. He however, fell short in the MVP voting to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers who won in a landslide in voting 48-2.
Drew didn’t go home empty handed, though. In 2011, he won FedEx Air Player of the Year, an award he has won four times since its inception in 2003. He also was awarded the honors in 2006, 2008, and the 2009 season.
He is the face of the Saints franchise and easily among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.
ESPN’s John Clayton had previously reported that Brees’ agent Tom Condon was baffled by slow contract talks with Saints GM Mickey Loomis.
This is something the Saints and fans across the world did not want to see happen. Especially with other marquee players like Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks and wide receiver Marques Colston also becoming free agents. The tag was key to keeping one of these two players, or perhaps both.
As the deadline for the franchise tag grew closer, Saints fans became frustrated and confused at how far the contract talks have gotten.
Recently a report surfaced that the two sides were approximately $5 million off for the first three years in talks.
The New Orleans Saints wanted to offer Drew Brees $18 million a season, which is the amount that quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady make through the life of their contract.
Brees and agent Tom Condon however, were requesting $23 million over the first three years, which is how Manning’s deal was structured.
This means the franchise tag is not available for guard Carl Nicks and wide receiver Marques Colston.
The Saints will have a week to rush to attempt to get a deal done with Nicks and Colston and the other players such as wide receiver Robert Meachem and Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who are all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.
This likely means that the New Orleans Saints are in serious jeopardy of not being able to re-sign either player which could be a huge blow for the offense and Drew Brees.
Drew Brees had gone on record saying he was confident that a deal would be reached by the deadline and that he was determined to do anything he can do keep other players, including taking less money.
He clearly didn’t keep his word by allowing the New Orleans Saints to franchise tag him.
The news comes less than 24 hours after the NFL reported that former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams ran a “bounty” system with the Saints.
The system was said to pay players for interceptions, sacks, forced fumbles, safeties, tackles within the 20 on kickoffs, and for causing injuries to players on the field.
This was the last thing the New Orleans Saints needed to hear, especially during a time where the fans are worried about the punishment the organization will receive.
The punishment of the NFL findings could result in a loss of draft picks, big figured fines, and possible suspensions by players or coaches who participated.
The New Orleans Saints will find out their punishment from the “bountygate” scandal by March 25th, says Jay Glazer.
The New Orleans Saints and other franchises will have until July 16th to negotiate a longer deal with tagged players instead of July 15th, since that date falls on a Sunday.