Earlier this week, Saints quarterback Drew Brees said that talks on an extension of his contract has been tabled until after the season, in order to prevent the situation from becoming a distraction.
But it will eventually become a significant distraction, if the two sides can’t get a deal done when the season ends. Absent a new contract, the Saints definitely will apply the franchise tag to Brees. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Brees will not sign it.
If he doesn’t sign it, he won’t be under contract — and he won’t be required to attend offseason workouts, training camp, or preseason games.
Brees eventually could show up on the eve of the regular-season opener and receive the full amount of the one-year guaranteed salary, expected to be in the range of $14 million to $15 million. But neither Brees nor the team would have the benefit of the preparation that occurs in the offseason and preseason.
Per the source, Brees isn’t upset with the organization. He simply realizes that it’s part of the business of the game.
That said, if Brees boycotts team activities in 2012, he would open himself up to criticism regarding the perceived abandonment of his teammates, whom Brees worked diligently to keep prepared during the lockout. For Brees to ensure when the broader labor contract was expired that he and his teammates were ready to go after the situation was resolved but to leave them hanging when only his contract hasn’t been finalized could cause some to accuse Brees of applying a double standard.
But that would be unfair to Brees. Teams use leverage when they have it. Players should, too — especially since the occasions on which players have leverage are fewer and farther between then the occasions when the teams have leverage.
That said, the same “how much is enough” question that was directed at Peyton Manning in 2011 and 2004 becomes a fair question as to Brees. He needs to leave enough money under the salary cap to ensure that other quality players can be signed or retained.