ESPN’s NFL Insider Adam Sheftner reported today that the New Orleans Saints and quarterback Drew Brees still remain a ways apart in their efforts to produce a long-term contract, according to league sources.
If the two sides cannot make significant progress from where they are today, the Saints will be forced to use their franchise tag on Brees by the franchise tag Monday deadline.
Last week, Brees told the New Orleans Times-Picayune he was confident he would reach a deal with the Saints.
"“There’s no doubt in my mind we’ll get a deal done,” “I think there’s been progress made,” “But just like everything it’s a process. It takes time. It’s not something that happens overnight.” – Drew Brees"
Drew Brees said when asked about reports that he and the Saints talks were far apart.
In 2011, Brees set NFL single-season records with 468 completions, 5,476 yards passing and a completion percentage of 71.2.
Brees completed 468 of his 657 pass attempts for 5,476 yards. He also had 46 touchdowns and 14 interceptions with a QB rating of 110.6 on the year.
If the New Orleans Saints are forced to tag quarterback Drew Brees, that increases the probability that either or both wide receiver Marques Colston and guard Carl Nicks don’t return to the Saints in 2012.
The Saints would have a week to get a deal complete with either or both, or they will hit the free agent market.
Guard Carl Nicks would like more than New Orleans Saints guard Jahri Evans, who is the highest paid guard in the NFL with a seven-year, $56.7 million dollar contract.
Wide receiver Marques Colston is rumored to want in the $7 million dollar range for his services, which would make it unlikely even with a Brees long term deal complete that he gets the franchise tag which is valued at $9.5 million for receivers.
One of the hold ups in the contract talks could be due the two sides negotiating an injury clause so the New Orleans Saints don’t get stuck in a situation such as the Indianapolis Colts are with quarterback Peyton Manning currently.
Drew Brees has been down that road before when the San Diego Chargers failed to offer him a legitimate contract that showed their confidence in Brees after he tore his labrum and underwent arthroscopic surgery.
In 2005, the San Diego Chargers offered Drew Brees a five-year, $50 million contract that paid $2 million in base salary the first year and the rest heavily based on performance incentives.
Brees viewed the incentive-based offer as a sign of no confidence on their behalf and demanded the salary a top five “franchise” quarterback would receive.
In 2011, Brees was the 16th highest paid quarterback in the NFL from a base salary aspect and he was the second highest paid on the New Orleans Saints roster.
This could likely be the hold up due to him not wanting another San Diego situation and the Saints not wanting to get stuck in a situation as the Colts are.
If somehow the New Orleans Saints “waste” the franchise tag on Drew Brees and lose another key player due to the tag not being available, the blame likely will fall on Drew Brees and agent Tom Condon, not general manager Mickey Loomis.
During the 2011 NFL season Brees decided to hold off contracts until after the season was complete to not cause a distraction due to the sides being far apart on figures.
Had Brees negotiated during the season a deal could be complete by now and a tag could be currently available for other players.