When discussing and/or reporting on the status of talks between the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees since last August, plenty of folks have responded by saying, essentially, “So what? It’s eventually going to get done.”
That sentiment likely remains accurate, but it still isn’t done. And the team’s offseason Organized Team Activities begin in only nine days.
As Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune explains it, the chances of that happening before the launch of OTAs are “practically zero.” Which means that the Saints would not only be missing a head coach for their 10 opportunities to prepare for training camp, but also their starting quarterback.
And there’s no sign that a breakthrough is coming. “Nobody has picked up the phone for more than a month to resuscitate talks, and there’s no indication either side will reach out in the near future,” Triplett writes.
The key date, then, will be July 16, the deadline for signing a franchise player to a long-term deal. After that date, Brees will be relegated to a one-year, $16.371 million contract. After that date, he’d gain no additional leverage by holding out, and he’d lose more than $1 million for each regular-season game missed.
Maybe that’s why the Saints aren’t picking up the phone. Maybe they realize that, eventually, Brees will have to choose between taking the best deal made before July 16 or gaining nothing by holding out of training camp — and in turn hurting the team’s chances (and his own) of being ready to go as of Week One.
Still, the real damage begins on May 22, when the Saints begin to lay the foundation for training camp. Even if Brees shows up for training camp, the Saints will have had to get through the offseason without one thing that their primary competitors in the NFC will have had: their starting quarterback.