A franchise tag grievance between Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints could bring clarity to Brees' contract negotiations with the team. Brees, who was issued the franchise tag by the Saints this offseason, was also franchised when he was a member of the San Diego Chargers.
An arbitrator ruled in favor of Brees on Tuesday, meaning another franchise tag from the Saints in 2013 would qualify as the third time he's been franchised. That means a third franchise tag would be a 144 percent increase in pay in 2013. Also of significance is that a player can only be franchised three times, which means the Saints could only use it on him one more time in 2013.
Brees believes the Saints could franchise him again in 2013 if the two sides don't reach a long-term deal. His argument, which was presented to arbitrator Stephen Burbank last week, is that because of the Chargers tag seven years ago, the Saints franchising him in 2013 would actually be the third time he's franchised. A third franchise tag means a 144 percent increase in pay from the previous season, which would put Brees' 2013 franchise tag number at approximately $23.5 million.
This affects his current negotiations with the Saints because the minimum Brees can earn if he's franchised next year would be approximately $39 million -- $16.3 million franchise tag in 2012 and a $23.5 million franchise tag in 2013. That puts some parameters around a possible extension for Brees.
We'll see if the franchise tag clarification pushes the two sides closer to a long-term deal before the July 16 deadline.