Lost in the recent storm of developments and debates on whether the Saints put contracts on opposing players is the fact that the team’s starting quarterback doesn’t have a contract of any kind.
But with the deadline for getting a long-term deal finalized only three weeks and three days away, folks in New Orleans are becoming increasingly restless, as explained by Jarrett Bell of USA Today.
“With all the crap happening here, they should just sign Drew Brees and get the drama over with,” Edmond Belizaire, a New Orleans taxi driver, told Bell. ”Jonathan Vilma won’t be here this year. Will Smith will be gone for a few games. But with Drew Brees, you’ve still got a shot at getting to the Super Bowl.”
Bell explains that, while fans in New Orleans typically are inclined to side with management, Brees gets the benefit of the doubt on this one.
“Brees could be mayor of New Orleans,” Belizaire said.
The quarterback continues to avoid blame or scrutiny for his reluctance to accept a one-year offer that would pay him more than $1 million per game. He wants a long-term deal, and even though the team reportedly has overstated his financial demands, no one in N.O. seems to be turning on Brees.
“Brees is the glue,” said Nathan Washington, a bellman at a local hotel. ”He deserves whatever he’s asking for. How can you not give it to him? If that’s a problem for the Saints, I’ll start up a fund and take to the streets. If you’re talking about Brees, this community would chip in and pay for it.”
Actually, some fans have tried to do that. From May 29 through June 4, they raised $2,455.36. The absence of an updated total in 18 days makes us wonder whether they’ve dropped the effort — or whether they absconded to Mexico to retire . . . as long as they plan to live only for another month.
This drama shouldn’t last for more than another month. Despite premature reports from a couple of weeks ago that a deal between Brees and the Saints is close, there’s no reason to believe the two sides won’t wrap this up by 4:00 p.m. ET on July 16.
And there’s still a chance that, after the June 27 hearing on whether Brees’ 2013 franchise tender would be $19 million or $23 million, both sides will fear losing on that $4 million question, prompting them to find a middle ground before arbitrator Stephen Burbank issues a ruling.
Either way, Saints fans will get what they want soon. The only question is whether Brees’ absence for the entire offseason program will keep the team from getting off to the kind of fast start that ensures the road to the Superdome will go through the Superdome.