SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 14: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints reacts after they lost their game against the the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Here's how I like to imagine the last contract negotiation going:
Condon: "$25 million a year. And a part-time sharecropper. Drew wants tomatoes, brah."
Loomis: "Dude, what? $22 million a year, and we'll frontload the contract."
Condon: "Now we're talking. Let's discuss admission into the astronaut training program."
Now I know what you're saying. What the hell is this guy talking about? It's foreshadowing. Stay with me.
See, I'm about to bring the tin foil to this contract situation - and I'm bringing it hard. Something weird's going on here. Something unprecedented. Please, let me explain. But if you've never read my work before, beware - I like dashes, and I start sentences with prepositions, and I have sometimes changed tenses, and I love anaphora. If you can handle all that, make the jump.
Everything I've seen in the intertubes concerning this contract dispute - which is already being incorrectly called a "holdout" (someone not under contract can't hold out) - is wholly concerned with money. 20 million or 23 million? Highest paid quarterback ever - isn't that enough, Drew? Maybe, say the twitters, this is just all about Tom Benson on a power trip, attempting to exert his pouwah on everybody - including the franchise quarterback.
I don't buy it. Benson has a few undesirable qualities; I'll give you that. As I've said before, I don't trust him as far as I could throw him from his own proppity, and I wouldn't put it past him to be incessantly prideful. He's not a stupid man, however, and he must know what Drew Brees means to his franchise, his ticket sales, his merchandising, and his national coverage. I'm still not entirely convinced Benson cares a smidgen about his team's competitiveness except as it relates to the bottom line - but my goodness, how much does Drew Brees matter to his bottom line?
I also don't get the number games. A long-term deal would almost certainly shift the salary cap dynamic in the team's favor. A large signing bonus, paid up front but prorated to the cap, provides that front-loaded, guaranteed money at little immediate cost to the team. It's a simple concept, and I assure you the Great and Powerful Loomis gets it. Forcing Drew Brees to play (or sit) under the franchise tag would be an utterly pointless strategy. In 2012, it would cost more than a long-term deal.
All this, over 2-3 million a year during the first three years of the contract? Give me a break. Brees isn't that stupid. Condon isn't that stupid. Loomis isn't that stupid. Benson isn't that stupid.
"Good grief, new guy, get to the point. My eyes are glazing over."
Sorry, dude. Here we go.
There's something else, something strange, something sinister going on behind closed doors. Okay, maybe not sinister. My guess: Condon is asking for something - with Brees's full support - that is absolutely unprecedented. A bizarre player option? An incentive? Induction into the astronaut program? Your guess is as good as mine.
It makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Condon is a big-shot (obviously). He represents multiple quarterbacks. What more can he do for his legacy than to introduce a crazy new twist into the negotiation process for the elite NFL player? Benson may see it as a pandora's box - and he may be absolutely right. When it goes public, what if every other agent's eyes light up in amazement?
Let's not act like Brees wouldn't be down for such a power move. Brees put his name out there at every opportunity during the lockout. For all intents and purposes, he begged and pleaded to be the Player's Union Bad Guy to the league's Even More Evil Corporation. Remember, he even made a move to have the franchise tag itself excluded from those who were named on the lawsuit. He's far from above an attempt at precedent, and he definitely isn't the diety we once imagined.
I think, once this is all settled, that whatever is being demanded will be received (Yes, that was passive voice in multiple tenses, and it rocked your face). Benson/Loomis will cave, because Brees/Condon have them by the proverbial male genitalia. And we'll all go, "Wow." It could be something as simple as a bar against franchise tags when the contract expires. Maybe it's some type of protection-against-ever-getting-cut-if-severely-injured clause. It could be far more extreme than that. I'm just speculating at this point.
Perhaps, however, I'm an idiot in a tin-foil hat, reading too far into the issue, and the debate really is over 3-5 million a year in straight cash, homie.
We'll find out soon, though.