NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 07: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass to Robert Meachem #17 in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions during their 2012 NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 7, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Barely 24 hours ago I theorized that something deeper was brewing in the Drew Brees contract negotiations. I thought maybe Condon & company were holding on to something, a request or a bargaining chip, and were going to attempt to make a splash and set some big new precedent that could be used (or abused) in future negotiations with other clubs and on behalf of other players.
I thought Brees would be in on it, because he's a players' player. I thought Condon would want to do something for his legacy, and would be willing to put all the chips on the power move.
It appears I was absolutely, 100 percent right (pats back profusely). Condon wants to set a precedent, all right - and that precedent is that a player's franchise tags with past teams can be used against a current team looking to apply that tag.
So, according to Condon (and apparently, the NFLPA), under the current CBA, Brees's tag with San Diego in 2005 is his first. The tag this year is his second, dictating a pay increase of 20%. His potential tag in 2013 would be the third, netting an increase of 44%.
This shifts the expected tag payout by - you guessed it - $3 million. We now know where the supposed "gap" was coming from. I would expect that this news is exactly what was holding up negotiations all this time. And the smart money is on the contract only getting done after there is a ruling on the interpretation of the CBA's franchise tag. Cole doesn't give a prospective time frame for that decision.
Brees won't back down, because this is a set-up for future negotiations for other players. And you can bet your sweet behind that no team is willing to be the first to concede that they should be punished for another team's use of the tag.