Recently, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported that, under the CBA, the NFLPA believes Saints quarterback Drew Brees will be entitled to a 44-percent raise in 2013, if the Saints use the franchise tag on him again. But Brees has available to him a much more potent tactic, if he’s willing to walk away from $16.371 million in 2012.
Article 10, Section 15(c) of the labor deal explains that, if Brees doesn’t play in 2012, he can be tendered as a franchise player once again in 2013. Though the language is a bit vague as to whether the franchise tender would equate to 120 percent of his 2011 salary or 120 percent of his 2012 tender (which is much higher), Section 15(c) contains a much more troubling provision, for the Saints. If Brees hold out for all of 2012, the Saints would be prevented from using the exclusive version of the franchise tag on Brees in 2013.
It gets better (or, from the Saints’ perspective, worse). If Brees never signs the 2012 franchise tender, the compensation in 2013 would drop to one first-round pick and one third-round pick.
While the Saints would have the right to match any offer sheet Brees signs elsewhere in 2013, a new team could put together a monstrous offer — and then the Saints would have to decide whether to finally pay Brees or let him walk away.
The fact that neither the Brees camp nor the NFLPA have leaked this specific tidbit could mean that Brees has no real intention of sitting out the full season, contrary to reports that he won’t sign the one-year tender. But if July 16 comes and goes without Brees signing a long-term deal and if he decides to exercise his right to not sign the one-year, $16.371 million tender, Brees’ name could be added to the list of options for teams that need quarterbacks in 2013.
Intriguing (for now) possibilities include the Jets, who are always looking for a franchise quarterback, the Chiefs, the Raiders (yeah, G.M. Reggie McKenzie said he’s done trading draft picks, but coach Dennis Allen would be lobbying hard for Brees), the Eagles (this is Mike Vick’s make-or-break season in Philly), the Vikings (oh, the irony), the 49ers, and the Cardinals.
But then there’s the fact the Brees grew up in Texas. Which could make the Texans and/or the Cowboys load the financial cannon in the hopes of bringing Drew home.
A lot of things have to happen before Brees would sit out the full season. But circumstances will change as of July 16. Given that Brees will have a shot at letting the market set his value in 2013 if he sits out for the full year, he could insist after July 16 on an agreement that the Saints won’t use the exclusive tender on him in 2013 — or that they won’t use the franchise tender at all.