In six days, the Saints will have to apply the franchise tag to quarterback Drew Brees, if a long-term deal doesn’t get finalized before then. And if that happens, the Saints won’t be able to use the franchise tag on Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks.
A source with knowledge of the situation tells us that the two sides continue to talk, but that a deal is not yet done.
The challenge for both sides, as it was a year ago for the NFL and the NFLPA, will be to come to an understanding as to when the clock strikes 12 on getting a deal done. Using the tag gives the Saints more time. But it also potentially sets the stage for Brees to miss offseason workouts, training camp, and the preseason.
Once tagged, Brees can stay away until a few days before the regular-season opener and still get the full amount of his money. That gives him real leverage.
But will he want to use it? By doing so, he hurts the Saints — and he hurts himself, to the extent he wants to have another big season and ultimately make it to the first Super Bowl to be played in New Orleans in more than a decade.
Given that Nicks likely will be lost if the deal isn’t done by Monday, both sides should agree that midnight actually comes at 4:00 p.m. on March 5.