The New Orleans Saints are probably going to re-sign Drew Brees soon. The team has been clear from the jump that a new contract for the quarterback isn’t just a goal, it’s something the Saints see as inevitable. And Brees has been clear that he wants to be in New Orleans.
So what’s the hang up?
“I don’t see that being a long, drawn out process, and I think we’ve been here before,” Sean Payton told reporters of Brees’ contract negotiations at the NFL Combine, via the Times-Picayune. “I think that’s going to get done fairly smoothly.”
But they’re sure cutting it close.
If a deal isn’t in place by Wednesday, Brees will become a free agent. But the real deadline may be even sooner with the NFL’s legal tampering window opening on Monday afternoon. Teams did not wait long to contact Brees, unsurprisingly:
.@TomPelissero says the #Vikings have reached out to Tom Condon on Drew Brees. I can add, so have the other QB-needy teams. #intrigue— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2018
The Saints would be wise not to let other teams get involved
Determining Brees’ value is a little tricky.
His stats certainly warrant him getting more than the record-breaking $27.5 million per year average that Jimmy Garoppolo just received in February. After all, Brees just set the all-time mark for completion percentage in a season in 2017 at 72 percent, and he topped 4,000 passing yards for the 12th year in a row — something no other player has done in more than eight consecutive seasons.
But he’s also 39. And the smartest franchises in the NFL pay players for what they’ll bring to the team in the future, not for what they’ve already accomplished.
Brees hasn’t shown signs of slowing, but it’ll inevitably happen and the Saints want to minimize the amount of dead money they’ll carry when it’s time to move on. No matter when that is, the Saints already have $18 million in dead money scheduled to hit the books when Brees departs. Adding more to that isn’t ideal.
The Saints have more than $28 million in space to work with, but if they can’t figure out a solution by Monday — a team with much more space to work with could swoop in and stir up trouble, a team like the Jets.
Teams with tons of cap room could make a ridiculous offer
OK, so technically the Jets and any other interested team couldn’t actually talk numbers with Brees until Monday afternoon. All they can do is say they’re interested and try to schedule a free agent visit.
Even if those interested teams didn’t talk specifics, they’ll probably at least let Brees know that they’re ready to make an offer that the Saints just can’t match.
Let’s say — hypothetically — that the Jets offer a deal that pays Brees $60 million, fully guaranteed over the next two seasons. It would:
- Be the first NFL contract to ever reach a $30 million per year average.
- They’d get a veteran to lead the team, while a rookie — presumably picked early in the draft — has time to learn the ropes.
- For the right team, that kind of deal would be fine on cap space with more than enough to make other moves before Brees is off the books in a couple seasons.
- Be a deal the Saints wouldn’t come close to matching.
Don’t count on Brees leaving
Ultimately, this will probably be a moot point.
The Saints want Brees and Brees wants to be with the Saints.
Saints GM Mickey Loomis declined to discuss details on last night’s meeting with Drew Brees agent, but said, “I think the important thing is Drew wants to be a New Orleans Saint and we want him to be a New Orleans Saint, so he’s going to be a New Orlean Saint.”— Herbie Teope (@HerbieTeope) March 2, 2018
Even in the scenario where the team doesn’t pay him, it’ll still be on the hook for $18 million in cap space. So the Saints wouldn’t even be saving much by letting him walk.
But New Orleans is playing with fire by letting it get this close.