As the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees continue to engage in a stare-down that may or may not result in a multi-year deal by the franchise-tag deadline of July 16, there’s reason for hope that the gap between the two sides will be closed.
The hope comes from the fact that the gap is far smaller than previously reported.
Widespread reports over the past several months have pegged the Saints’ offer at $18 million per year, with Brees’ demands north of $21 million. Some accounts have put Brees’ expectations at $23 million annually.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, that’s not the case. Brees, we’re told, has never asked for $21 million. And the Saints are believed to be offering more than $18 million, possibly closer to $19 million than $18 million.
Last month, Brees hinted that the demands attributed to him have been overstated. “I would say that the numbers that have been thrown around by ESPN and some of these other places, at times, have been pretty heavily inflated,” Brees said, expressing frustration at a perceived lack of urgency on the part of the Saints.
So if the gap is closer than reported, why hasn’t the deal gotten done? It could be that the Saints are pushing the bigger numbers, in the hopes of creating the impression that, once they move toward Brees’ real bottom line, it will be perceived that the final number is much closer to what the Saints had offered than to what Brees had wanted, which in turn will result in a belief that the Saints “won” the tug-o-war.
Even if that’s the strategy, it makes no sense for the Saints to sacrifice Brees’ involvement in the offseason program during an offseason of so much upheaval and uncertainty. While Brees may not need the extra work in order to pick up where he left off in 2011, the Saints need Brees.
Apparently, the Saints don’t believe they need him enough to close the gap now.