With the New Orleans Saints off-season program starting on Monday, April 16th, according to Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, a source close to quarterback Drew Brees said that that he will not be attending without a long-term deal in place.
“It is very upsetting to him not being there Monday,” the source said. “He wants to be there for his teammates.”
It certainly would help the team to have Brees’ leadership at the voluntary workouts due to the absence of head coach Sean Payton, much like what he did last offseason when he rallied the players and lead workouts during the NFL lockout.
However, it’s rather frequent for players who are in contract negotiations to hold out during these workouts.
The workouts you should worry about Brees missing are where the team actually starts practicing on the field which are held in mid-May.
Here’s why these voluntary workouts are not a big deal:
- Players are limited only to strength and conditioning, or injury rehabilitation. Strength coaches are the only coaches allowed to watch or otherwise be involved during this period.
- Quarterbacks can throw passes to receivers during this phase, but no defense is permitted. Otherwise, no footballs are allowed on the field.
- Players cannot wear helmets.
So these voluntary workouts are just that, workouts. No different than you or I do with friends at a park or at a gym each morning or afternoon.
With no defense being played, the only benefit a quarterback gets is working on his timing with the wide-receivers he’ll be throwing to next season and the opportunity to get in mid-season form during the off-season.
As we can all agree- a veteran like Drew Brees doesn’t exactly need to work on timing after putting up the type of season he did last year.
In 2011, Brees set NFL single-season records with 468 completions, 5,476 yards passing and a completion percentage of 71.2. He also 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.
The Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers opted to not get together for workouts during the lockout following their 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. Rodger’s didn’t miss a beat with his receivers and looked mid-season form from the start in a season. A season in which he lead his team to an NFL best 15-1 record, which ended in a loss in the 2012 Divisional Playoffs against the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants in a 37-20 route at Lambeau Field.
It’s more about the players getting back into the habit of running drills, lifting weights and getting personalities back together to be on the same page mentally. Think of these workouts like studying, training camp being the test, and the regular season like the final exam.
Saints back-up quarterback Chase Daniel will fill Brees’ void appropriately and get the wide-outs in shape with their pass and catch drills, much like former Packers quarterback Brian Brohm did for wide-out Randy Moss when he worked out for the New Orleans Saints before eventually signing with the San Francisco 49ers.
Brees could still choose to attend the off-season program at any point without being under contract, as long as he signs a waiver. However, should he do that it’ll hurt his leverage during contract negotiations so that’ unlikely to happen.
The two sides have until July 16th to complete a long-term deal, but with the two sides allegedly being “close” according to Saints owner Tom Benson, there’s some speculation around the league that a deal could be completed in the coming weeks.
There is no cause for alarm with Brees holding out during these workouts because for a player like him, it’s almost pointless to attend. Especially when it’s a very common thing in the NFL.
The only thing the team will be missing is the leadership Brees and Sean Payton brings to the table, but be assured, that leadership will be back in the team facilities soon.