The upset of the year could be coming before training camps even open.
With the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees less than a week away from the deadline for doing a long-term deal, there’s a growing belief in some league circles that the lingering impasse won’t be resolved — and that Brees will ultimately play in 2012 under the one-year, $16.371 million franchise tag.
That would put the Saints in the inordinately difficult position of having to pay Brees $23.57 million (nearly 20 percent of the projected salary cap) in 2013.
Of course, it may not get to that point because Brees may agree to show up for training camp and the preseason only if the Saints agree to sweeten the one-year franchise tender by promising not to tag him again next year, setting the stage for an even more compelling free-agency land rush than the Peyton chase.
The pendulum could be swinging away from what was believed to be an inevitable long-term deal because the pendulum swung toward Brees on the $3.96 million question regarding the value of his franchise tender in 2013. If the Saints aren’t willing to do a multi-year contract that takes into account the fact that Brees currently is looking at nearly $40 million over the next two years under the tag, it could be difficult if not impossible to put this thing to bed.
The smart money continues to ride on the situation being resolved. But the smart money hasn’t been right yet on this one, and perhaps it shouldn’t be regarded as a shock if next Monday comes and goes without a long-term deal for Drew Brees.