The Saints and quarterback Drew Brees are inching toward the moment beyond which they can’t do a long-term deal until after the final game of the 2012 regular season. And if they get past next Monday at 4:00 p.m. ET, all we know is that, barring a highly unlikely trade, Brees will play for the Saints or no one in 2012.
And given that Brees already has made it clear that he’ll play in 2012, the question becomes whether he’ll hit the market in 2013, whether the Saints would devote $23.57 million to one player under a $121 million or so salary cap to keep him, or whether a long-term deal will come in 2013.
Appearing on Wednesday’s edition of The Dan Patrick Show, hosted by an Internet hack with whom you may be familiar, FOX’s Jay Glazer said he believes Brees never will leave the Saints.
Though Glazer’s opinion on the surface may seem no different than anyone else’s, Glazer is more plugged in than anyone, especially when it comes to the Saints. And even though he seems at times (or, as the case may be, all the time) a little erratic, he is always very careful about the opinions he expresses when it comes to the base of knowledge he possesses.
Although there’s a chance Brees is trying to finagle a path to the open market — especially since Titans owner Bud Adams reportedly was willing to pay Peyton Manning $25 million per year with a supposed noodle arm — Brees’ could simply be taking a page from the Walter Jones playbook.
Jones, one of the great left tackles of the past generation, played three straight seasons with the Seahawks under the franchise tag before signing a big-money, multi-year deal. By keeping the injury risk for three straight years (and by not suffering serious injury), Jones was able to eventually get the kind of deal he could have gotten in Year One.
The end result? A much bigger haul than Jones would have realized if he’d signed a long-term deal in the first place.
For Brees, whatever the Saints are offering by way of guaranteed money will be there, barring serious injury, in 2013. So why not take $16.371 million now and add to it what he otherwise would have gotten on a long-term deal now?
Also, remember that, after July 16, Brees and the Saints can still negotiate the terms of a one-year deal. So Brees could ask for even more than $16.371 million, explaining that for the lower amount he’ll skip training camp and the preseason, and that for a greater amount he’ll show up in time for the launch of training camp.
So while it’s too early to think about the Saints without Brees, it’s not too early to wonder about the unconventional ways the dominoes may fall to keep him in New Orleans, and whether there’s a way he can navigate the chess board to end up with a lot more than if he were to simply take the Saints’ current offer.