Lost in the Drew Brees Tuesday media tour amid talk of the bounty case and his long-term deal with the Saints is the fact that, on Wednesday, arbitrator Stephen Burbank will entertain arguments on a $4 million question regarding Drew’s potential compensation in 2013.
June 27 remains the date for the hearing on the question of whether Brees’ franchise tender next year would be determined by giving him a 20-percent raise or a 44-percent raise over his earnings in 2012.
The Saints and the NFL believe that, because the Saints would be using the franchise tag a second time in 2013, Brees would get only a 20-percent raise, which would give him $19.645 million in base pay. Brees and the NFLPA believe that, because Brees once before played under the franchise tag in San Diego, use of the tag a second time by the Saints would amount to a third time on Brees, entitling him to a 44-percent raise — or $23.574 million.
There’s no middle ground. One side will win the point, one will lose, and the $3.929 difference will swing one way or the other. And that amount will then impact the two-year haul Brees can expect under the tag.
So he’ll either be in line for $35 million or $39 million over the next two years. Which will help give clarity to the final negotiations on a long-term deal that is expected to be signed by July 16, the deadline for signing franchise players to multi-year contracts.
If both sides emerge from the hearing skittish about losing this $4 million bet, they’ll have a strong incentive to split the difference, doing a deal based on Brees making $37 million over the next two seasons under the franchise tag.