NEW YORK - APRIL 22: Quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints attends the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 25, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Like all Saints fans, I appreciate the contributions Drew Brees has made to the team, the city of New Orleans, and the state of Louisiana. I know his stats speak for themselves, but his play on the field is more than just stats. He has brought an attitude to the locker room. Our players have a swagger about them nowadays, and I contribute that to knowing their quarterback is one of the best players in the league.
Many Saints fans claim they would give Brees a blank check for his services. The only problem is that the NFL uses a salary cap system meant to stabilize the competitiveness across the league. And you better believe he doesn't care about our cap space when it comes to his contract negotiations. As a matter of fact, looking at the numbers Brees may be trying to take the franchise to the cleaners.Many Saints fans are upset with the franchise because Benson and Loomis haven't signed Brees yet. While I can see how many can blame them, I can also see that the Saints, as a team, are right up against the salary cap. In essence, Brees and his agent Tom Condon are holding this team for ransom.
How dare I make a statement like that? Because it's true! Now calm down, if you guys could put down the torches and pitchforks and listen to reason you may be swayed by my logic.
First of all, I want to remind you guys that Brees is nothing more than one employee out of thousands. Lately though, it seems like he's the only employee that matters. For example, did you know the NFLPA has requested that Goodell review contract negotiations between Brees and the Saints? I wonder why they would do that while other players under the franchise tag are not getting the same kind of support? Here's the story behind this:
And yet it was only Brees the NFL Players Association reportedly went to bat for in a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, suggesting the quarterback's role in the lockout last year had compromised contract talks with the New Orleans Saints.
But after the lockout ended there was plenty of time to negotiate, renegotiate, negotiate again, do some pilates, and find middle ground during the actual season. Now if I remember correctly, Brees made the choice to not negotiate a deal last year because it might distract him during the season. The thing that doesn't add up to me is the fact that Brees has publicly claimed that Tom Condon and Mickey Loomis are the guys handling the negotiations. So in that case Brees should be able to focus on playing football and let his agent do the work right?
Well his agent has been working and their solution was to petition the NFL for a ruling on how franchise tags work under the new CBA. Under the current conditions of the franchise tag, Brees would earn $16.4 million dollars. If the probe (hehe...I said probe) sides with Brees & co. then he'll be due almost $24 million in 2013.
So what does this mean for 2012? I'm not sure in the way of his 2012 salary; however, this is a major point in negotiations for Brees' side. You see, if he can be guaranteed almost $24 million next year, it gives him leverage against the franchise to increase their offer for this year. Obviously, the higher the Saints have to go, the less they have in cap space. With two more draft picks to sign and some possible UDFA prospects, the team is literally right up against the salary cap.
ProFootballTalk.com says the Saints are currently $2.27 million away from the salary cap for 2012 as of June 22. There's no telling what they are basing these numbers on because there is no actual article. This may include all of the camp bodies, but really I would venture this only reflects the contracts currently in place (including Brees' franchise tag) with the exception of Akiem Hicks, Corey White and Marcel Jones, since their deals were just inked.
When you compare the $2.27 million to the roughly $1 million keeping Brees and the Saints franchise apart, what does that leave? $1.27 million, not including Hicks, Jones and White right? Which means the Saints had better restructure someone's contract. I'm not claiming to have a full understanding of how the cap works but I know this doesn't seem to add up to being a team player.
As many of us are realizing, perception is not reality. Maybe our perception of Brees is so biased we haven't been able to see his true nature. Rumor has it that the Saints have offered contracts that would make Brees one of the top paid players in the league, but that doesn't seem good enough according to how this is unfolding. Of course my perception of the salary cap may be screwed up. But let me put it into perspective for you, and then tell me if he's being greedy.
If we just count regular season games at $16.4 million dollars (the franchise tag salary), then Brees would be earning $1,025,000 per game played. Now let's include all pre-season games and the playoffs through the Superbowl (here's hoping). Brees would only be paid $656,000 per game (total 25 games). Either way you look at it, I can't fathom how many times over I could pay for my kids' college education, pay off all of my debt, buy a new house, new cars, new wardrobes, and set up my great-great-great grandchildren for life with that kind of money.
By the way, I've considered the taxes and I'd still be able to work for one year and retire comfortably at my age. Something else I've considered is that I'd have to work roughly eight years to earn what he'd be paid for one game!
So is there any room for negotiation here? Is Brees full of hot air? Would you still hand him a blank check? Am I starting with the questions again? Where did I leave my car keys? Are you still holding the torches and pitchforks?