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CBA seems to undermine Brees’ new franchise-tag argument

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A long-term deal that pays quarterback Drew Brees more over the first three years than the Saints would pay by using the franchise tag for three straight seasons makes no business sense for the team.  And so the three-year breakeven point is (or at least appears to be) $64.305 million, which is the sum of $16.371 million for 2012 plus $19.645 million for 2012 (i.e., 120 percent of his 2012 salary) plus $28.289 million for 2014 (i.e., 144 percent of his 2013 salary).

In other words, if Brees wants more than $21.435 million per year over the next three years, the Saints would be wise to go year-to-year under the franchise tag.

Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reports that Brees’ camp believes his multi-year take under the franchise tag would be even higher, by forcing the Saints to give Brees a 44-percent raise not in 2014 but in 2013, given that Brees already has played a full season under the franchise tag as a member of the Chargers, in 2005.  This argument arises from the basic notion that, in a player’s second franchise-tag season, he gets a 20-percent raise over his prior season’s salary and, in his third franchise-tag season, he receives a 44-percent bump.

This argument, however, doesn’t mesh with a commonsensical reading of the key language of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Article 10, Section 2(b) sets forth the formula arising from a thirdfranchise-tag designations, starting with the following language:  “Any Club that designates a player as a Franchise Player for the third time. . . .”

It doesn’t say “if a player is designated as a Franchise Player for the third time.”  It says “any Club that designates a player as a Franchise Player for the third time.”  This strongly implies that the Club that is designating the player as a franchise player for the third time has designated the player as a franchise player twice before.

This alternative interpretation of the CBA puts only an extra $3.929 million in play, pushing the two-year take from $36.016 million to $39.945 million.  So if Brees wants more than $39.945 million over the first two years, it still makes more sense for the Saints to use the tag twice.

There’s another aggressive argument Brees’ camp could advance under Article 10 of the CBA, but no reference to this possibility appears in Cole’s article.  Brees and the NFLPA could claim that the CBA contemplates that a player will be subject to the franchise tag only three times, since it contains no language or formula contemplating the use of a franchise tag a fourth time.  Thus, if the Saints use the tag on Brees this year and next year, and if using the tag this year and next year amounts to using a tag three total times on Brees, Brees could argue that he can’t be tagged in 2014, and this would be an unrestricted free agent.

Perhaps the best news for the 2012 edition of the Saints is that any discussion about what Brees would earn under the franchise tag in 2013 means that he is in fact willing to play under the franchise tag in 2012, despite multiple reports that he won’t.  If he doesn’t play under the franchise tag in 2012, his salary for 2013 once again would be $16.371 million.

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19 Responses to “CBA seems to undermine Brees’ new franchise-tag argument”
  1. butthatmakestoomuchsense says: May 25, 2012 5:39 PM

    In other words, if Brees wants more than $21.435 million per year over the next three years, the Saints would be wise to go year-to-year under the franchise tag.

    The only problem there is that so far Brees is refusing to sign that franchise tag, so going that route may not be an option for the Saints.

    And, yawn, “Drew Brees demands an explanation”. There, it’s out of the way.

  2. jeffw says: May 25, 2012 5:45 PM

    He should hold out until week 8, then report in. By that time he will be useless to the team and will ride the bench the last 8 games, but he will get his year of eligibility. He would be paid roughly $8 million to hold a clipboard.
    Then we could go through this all over again next off season!

  3. butthatmakestoomuchsense says: May 25, 2012 6:02 PM

    He should hold out until week 8, then report in. By that time he will be useless to the team and will ride the bench the last 8 games, but he will get his year of eligibility. He would be paid roughly $8 million to hold a clipboard.
    Then we could go through this all over again next off season!

    The franchise tag is the Saints’ leverage, what’s written above is Brees’ leverage.

    I’m going to predict that despite all of the hand-wringing, Brees and the Saints get a deal done before camp.

  4. icdogg says: May 25, 2012 6:11 PM

    Maybe they can just put a bounty on him.

  5. hornbuckle says: May 25, 2012 7:17 PM

    Tough to get by on $16 million.

  6. thingamajig says: May 25, 2012 7:22 PM

    It doesn’t say “if a player is designated as a Franchise Player for the third time.” It says “any Club that designates a player as a Franchise Player for the third time.”

    Looks pretty clear to me. Brees’ camp can’t read?

  7. butthatmakestoomuchsense says: May 25, 2012 7:32 PM

    hornbuckle says: Tough to get by on $16 million.

    As if the Saints’ owners don’t make a lot more than that.

    Pay the man what he’s worth, or let Brees go someplace where they will pay him what he’s worth.

  8. chrisjohnston10 says: May 25, 2012 8:45 PM

    butthatmakestoomuchsense says:

    Pay the man what he’s worth, or let Brees go someplace where they will pay him what he’s worth.
    —————————
    Brees is a top 5 QB and deserves to be paid the average of the top 5 QBs. It’s hard to argue that Brees should be paid more than Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.

  9. pierrepoint1 says: May 25, 2012 9:56 PM

    Let’s see, does Brees need the $16 million more than the Saints need Brees?

    I’m guessing no. The Saints are automatically out of contention if Brees doesn’t sign.

    The Saints are playing a dangerous game, and they will be the big losers if they fail.

    I like the idea of Brees showing up late in the season, after the Saints are eliminated from the playoffs. He stills collects some money and the Saints get nothing of value in return.

    Then we can start the game all over again next spring.

  10. drewbreeswants says: May 25, 2012 9:57 PM

    Drew Brees wants an explanation!

  11. cowboyscanada says: May 25, 2012 10:06 PM

    Brees and his ppl are morons… Does anyone really believe the lies that Brees told the world about having no idea about the bounty scandal?? Please……

  12. matt2calvin says: May 25, 2012 10:29 PM

    Pay the man what he’s worth, or let Brees go someplace where they will pay him what he’s worth…

    Brees is a fine QB, but he isn’t worth anything close to his asking price. He will fold like a cheap suit – let him sit at home watch his arm get older…

  13. waitingguilty says: May 25, 2012 10:38 PM

    The new NFL…

    You can’t win without a franchise QB, LT, pass rusher and…legal team.

  14. omniscient48 says: May 25, 2012 11:35 PM

    Mr. Benson,

    Suspend Mickey Loomis immediately and put me as interim GM for a day. Offer Brees a 5-year contract for $107M. He will agree to structure it to have the least detrimental effect on the Saints’ salary cap. Done deal.

    Signed,

    Omniscient48

  15. larryjames836 says: May 26, 2012 2:29 AM

    Drew Brees should just sign and play the game with the team that he always been playing with if he play with any other team he will not lest a whole season. Drew Brees is not ready for another team he got hurt in San Diego come out broke up. Play for the Saints and stay safe what’s with money if you not able to spend it he is better off staying with the New Orleans Saints.

  16. packerfanfordecades says: May 26, 2012 3:39 AM

    This continuing contract circus isn’t doing any harm to Drew’s ability to throw the ball. But ……. I wonder if it is doing harm to his ability to serve as an effective team leader.

    I don’t follow the Saints that closely but I have the impression that in prior years Drew was a dynamic leader who pumped lots of constructive emotional energy into his fellow players.

    In my humble opinion, players on his team who have to play for less than $16 – $20 million per year are going to feel somewhat less enthusiastic about following Drew in the future.

    I cheer for the Packers, but it gives me no pleasure to see any dynamic/pumped-up leader self-inflict that kind damage upon himself. Shucks. How can anyone feel good about that?

    .

  17. mancave001 says: May 26, 2012 9:49 AM

    21 million a year average…and he wants more. I wonder how long people will stay on his side, given our current economy.

  18. pturner81 says: May 26, 2012 1:08 PM

    Great article

  19. vtopa says: May 27, 2012 12:26 AM

    The deal will get done. $21 million per year. Drew is just hanging out with Sean Payton and working on the playbook (since he is not an official member of the team right now he can do that).

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