Saints quarterback Drew Brees sounded optimistic on Wednesday that a deal to end the lockout could get done very soon.
“We’re very close to a settlement,” Brees said on XX Sports Radio in San Diego. “We’re at that point in the negotiations where there’s just a few more details that need to be ironed out.”
Brees is in San Diego at the moment but said he might be headed to New York to get personally involved in negotiations. And he said the July 21 owners’ meeting looms large on the calendar.
“Obviously there’s a big sense of urgency, especially in the next week with the owners’ meeting on July 21,” Brees said. “I think we’re all optimistic and hoping we can finalize a deal for that time.”
As a named plaintiff in the players’ antitrust lawsuit and a member of the NFLPA* Executive Committee, Brees is one of the most knowledgeable players in the league when it comes to the ongoing negotiations. He confirmed the widespread reports that a revenue split and a rookie pay scale are the major issues in the ongoing negotiations.
On the revenue split, Brees said the players have already made concessions to the owners: “We’ve taken a significant setback as far as overall revenue.”
Regarding rookie contracts, Brees said the issues were “especially, really, the Top 15 picks.” And he said that he wants any savings from reduced pay to those high draft picks to go to the players, including improving pensions and health care for retired players.
“If their salaries are cut, where does that money go? Our standpoint is if that money is taken away from the rookies, it needs to go to the veteran players,” Brees said. “Proven veterans as well as retired players.”
Brees says the owners should be happy with the deal the players are willing to make, and now it’s time for the owners to reach across the table and accept.
“The fact of the matter is that we do have a very fair proposal on the table right now in front of the owners,” Brees said. “They’ve talked a lot here over the last week about how, ‘Wer’e going to get a deal done before the 21st, for the meetings.’ Well, now the ball’s in their court because we have a very fair proposal.”
According to Brees, the players are ready, willing and able to get back to work.
“Get us back on the field again,” Brees said. “That’s all we want as players.”