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The Drew Brees Contract Status: 29 Days Til Breesageddon

Loomis tries to ignore all the buzz surrounding Brees's contract.  Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Loomis tries to ignore all the buzz surrounding Brees's contract. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Mike Triplett, newly-minted Saints Beat Columnist for the NOLA Media Group, provides us with a complete rundown on the Drew Brees contract situation with a little less than a month remaining until the Doomsday Deadline (July 16).

The good news is that we're now officially less than a month from the deadline for the New Orleans Saints and quarterback Drew Brees to reach a long-term contract agreement this year.

The bad news: They'll probably use up every last minute of that month before the deadline of Monday, July 16.

It doesn't include a whole lot of new information for those who have followed this story closely, but it does put all the information into one place, organized by logical subject headings.

I'll run through his exhaustive breakdown for you after the jump.

And I want you to re-caption the sidebar photo, too. Do you think Drew Brees or Sean Payton might be in that Hornet suit?

He first gives us the worst-case possibilities of the "he coulds," should a deal not get brokered.

If a long-term deal isn't reached by July 16, Brees' holdout could continue indefinitely. He could skip training camp and the entire preseason if he chooses, and he would still collect the full $16.371 million if he signs before Week 1 of the regular season. Or he could choose to skip some regular-season games without pay -- perhaps even the entire season.

Next moving from the bird's eye view of this monumental contract...

There are many details to be worked out in Brees' contract, but the biggest issue is total value. And the biggest question is whether Brees will become the first player in NFL history to average $20 million per season...

Eventually the sides are expected to meet somewhere between $19.2 million and $20 million per year, making Brees the highest-paid player in NFL history. some of the details needing to be ironed out (with a few benchmark comparisons):

Two other major issues that need to be worked out are the amount of guaranteed money and the amount to be paid in the first three years of the deal...

Brady's deal reportedly included $48 million in guarantees, and St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford's 2010 rookie deal reportedly included $50 million in guarantees, though it's not clear how they were structured. Regardless, Brees' deal likely will include $50 million to $60 million in some form of guaranteed money.

As for the first three years of the deal, Brees was believed to be seeking about $21.5 million per year in the first three years as of a few weeks ago. That's actually less than Manning's 2011 deal, which was worth more than $23 million per year for the first three years.

Followed by Triplett's take on what Brees and agent Tom Condon are arguing to Mickey...

Although Brees would still rank below Manning and Brady on a list of all-time greats, he has clearly earned his place in their class of the game's elite quarterbacks. Brees has ranked as the NFL's top quarterback in just about every statistical category the past three years, including wins. He just shattered the NFL record for most passing yards in a season and won his second NFL Offensive Player of the Year award. He was the Super Bowl MVP after the 2009 season. The list goes on.

And at 33, Brees is younger than Manning (36) and Brady (34). He is also healthier than Manning, who missed all of last season with a neck injury that remains a question.

Based on the steady inflation of superstar quarterback deals the past decade, Condon believes it's now Brees' turn to raise the bar even higher than Manning did earlier this year.

...and Mickey's likely counterpoint:

The Saints counter that argument by suggesting Manning got paid as if he was fully healthy, so Manning's deal should be a ceiling instead of a floor. If Manning, widely considered among the five best quarterbacks in league history, was worth $18 million per year 11 months ago and $19.2 million per year in March, why should Brees be worth more?

Plus, the Saints would argue that the inflation in quarterback salaries was higher in years past because the salary cap was increasing rapidly each year. Recently, the NFL's salary cap has actually decreased, thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement. It went from about $128 million per team in 2009 to less than $121 million per team in 2011 and 2012.

The Saints have been slammed tight against that salary cap the past two years, and they've had to move money into future years to stay under the cap. So they also believe that every million they can save on Brees' deal can go toward building a better team around him.

And then there's the question of the expected June 27 ruling on his franchise tag status as being either first-time or second-time designation...

The decision won't affect Brees' status or salary this year. And no one expects the Saints to franchise Brees twice, much less three times. But Burbank's ruling could add leverage to one side or the other by helping to determine his market value. If the franchise tag would pay Brees more than $40 million over the next two years, it would strengthen Condon's argument that he is worth more than $20 million per year.

So, has this standoff hurt the team? Yes...and no, sez Mike.

This deal should have been done by now -- especially before Brees missed four weeks of organized team activities and minicamp practices with his teammates. Although those workouts aren't essential, we saw how important they were to Brees during last year's NFL lockout, when he organized his own version of player-only OTAs at Tulane.

However, Brees and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. and most of his offensive teammates have been together long enough that they shouldn't have much problem jelling during an extended preseason that includes five exhibition games.

But, he's still calling for a happy ending:

And even though the contract standoff has been draining for everybody involved -- including the fans -- everybody seems to understand this is pretty routine business. We've predicted all along that the deal will get done by July 16, and everyone will be all smiles at the press conference.

* * *

And now you have everything you ever wanted to know about Drew's contract situation but were afraid to ask, so you can just sit back and relax (through gritted teeth and clenched fists as you keep checking the countdown clock Dave set up in the margin) until the press conference, right?