In what’s been a nightmarish off-season for the New Orleans Saints, the last thing they can afford to do is lose their franchise quarterback. But if the Saints don’t come up with a long-term deal that satisfies Drew Brees, he is reportedly ready to sit out the Saints training camp.
New Orleans has until Monday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline to come up with a deal, or Brees will reportedly refuse to sign his franchise tender and report to training camp. Although Brees has gone on record as saying he won’t sit out the regular season, it’s possible this move might leave the Saints in limbo as to whether he will report in time for the opener against the Washington Redskins on Sept. 9th.
If a deal is not reached by the July 16th deadline, Brees will be required to play the 2012 season under the $16.4 million franchise tender that restricts a free agent from signing with another team.
Under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, Brees would have until the Tuesday after the 10th regular-season game to sign his tender or he would be prohibited from playing the remainder of the 2012 season, and his salary would be a prorated for games missed from the date that he signs his tender offer.
Just last week, Brees won a grievance he filed in regards to the Saints tagging him as the franchise player this season. Arbitrator Stephen Burbank ruled that this tender was indeed the second time Brees had been tagged (the first being with the San Diego Chargers), and he also clarified that the CBA was intended for a player to be franchised no more than three times in his career. This ruling means that if Brees signs the tender this year and the Saints were to franchise him again in 2013, they must offer Brees a 44% raise, bringing the salary for the one-year tender to $23.57 million.
It would seem that the two sides are too close for this type of impasse, as the Saints have offered Brees a contract that would average $19.25 million per year, and Brees is seeking an average of $20.5 million per year
During his six seasons with the Saints, Brees led the franchise to its first Super Bowl title during the 2009 season, and was named Super Bowl MVP. Seemingly, that would be enough to give the one player you can’t afford to lose what he wants when the numbers are so close.
Neither side has offered any immediate comment. However, a Saints official has acknowledged the differences between the two sides, but seemed hopeful the gap could be bridged before next Monday’s deadline.