With all the talk (more on that later today) about whether Saints coach Sean Payton will return, there has been left chatter about 2016 and beyond for Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Much of that comes from a strong sense that franchise quarterbacks stay put, barring serious injury (e.g., Peyton Manning) or chronic inability to fully commit to football (e.g., Brett Favre). But with Brees, his history becomes relevant to predicting the future.
Trees enters 2016 with a bloated cap number of $30 million. That number flows from an effort by Brees in 2012 to get every last penny from the Saints when restricted by the franchise tag. (And he had every right to do it.) There was no hometown discount for his adopted hometown; instead, Brees and the NFL Players Association filed a grievance based on the speculative question of whether the Saints would have to give him a 20-percent raise or a 44-percent raise in 2013, if the team didn’t swap out his franchise tender in 2012 for a long-term deal. (Brees won that grievance, putting even more pressure on the Saints to sign him to a long-term deal.)
The end result was a five-year, $100 million deal, which is due to pay Brees $20 million in 2016. The problem comes from the extra $10 million in money paid out previously to Brees, but which counts against the cap next year. They need to find a way to chop that number to a manageable level, and Brees knows it.
So he can squeeze the Saints for a bigger signing bonus or other large guaranteed salaries via an extension, all in the name of getting the cap number reduced for 2016 and beyond. On Sunday morning, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media said that the Saints will be counting on Brees to take a “hometown discount” as part of a new contract with the Saints. But Brees definitely didn’t do that in 2012; whether he will in 2016 may have more to do with whether another team is willing to pay Brees more than the Saints will pay him.
And that could force the Saints to make a tough decision on Brees: Keep him for one more year with a $30 million cap number or move on.