Fans assured themselves that a deal would be done with Brees, Nicks would receive the teams franchise tag, and Colston would be an acceptable, but noticeable loss to free agency.
Instead, less than a day after the “pay for performance” announcement, the Saints placed the exclusive franchise tag on Brees. Reports were that the Saints were not even close to a deal and that Brees was less than thrilled.
When free agency began, fans were happy when Nicks said he had received a respectable offer from the Saints and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. But Nicks shocked many by signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an NFC South rival.
Colston was retained however and the Saints signed guard Ben Grubbs to help replace Nicks. The Saints also made a bold move in snagging linebacker Curtis Lofton and defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley.
But about a week later head coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis, and assistant head coach Joe Vitt were hit with some of the harshest sanctions many had seen in a long time.