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Brees picks up more leverage, sort of

Tony Romo AP

The news that more than half of Drew Brees‘ salary for 2016 became fully guaranteed on Wednesday wasn’t news. From the time the five-year deal was signed and filed, it was known that more than half of the base salary in the out years of the contract would become fully guaranteed on the third day of the waiver period.

The fact that the Saints neither cut Brees nor restructured the deal before Wednesday gives Brees extra leverage. If they cut him at this point, the Saints will take a $20.85 million cap charge for 2016. If the contract has offset language, however, the extra $10.85 million that vested on Wednesday would disappear if he were cut and then signed by a new team for that much money, which undoubtedly would happen. (If there’s no offset language for the 2016 salary, there’s no way the Saints would cut him at this point.)

Here’s one last point on Wednesday’s trigger. It’s accepted in league circles that a vesting date tied to the waiver period in February is used not to give the team a chance to cut a player, but for funding purposes. If the team wants to retain the ability to cut the player, the vesting date is tied to the start of the league year in March. When teams cut players before a vesting date tied to the waiver period in February, it’s viewed by agents as a major breach of etiquette, making it harder to get agents to agree to use that device in future deal.

As of March 9, Brees hits the books for $30 million in 2016, which will make it very difficult for the Saints to put a competitive team around him. The only way to reduce the number will be to extend the contract — unless Brees unilaterally decides to take less cash in 2016.

Putting a value on an extension becomes the challenge. In 2012, Brees parlayed significant leverage into a then-record contract worth $20 million per year. How much will he want per year at age 37? Another $20 million per year? Or will he want to get back to the top of the market, where Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers currently is making $22 million per year?

However it works out, an extension would allow the Saints to convert a huge chunk of the $19.75 million base salary into a signing bonus, spreading it over multiple years and reducing the cap number significantly for 2016. Apart from the raw numbers of an extension, the structure of a new contract will say plenty about the duration of the team’s commitment to Brees.

UPDATE 5:09 p.m. ET: The Brees guarantee has no offset language, which gives him even more leverage and means he’ll definitely be a Saint in 2016.

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33 Responses to “Brees picks up more leverage, sort of”
  1. eljefedelmundo says: Feb 11, 2016 5:13 AM

    This is Drew’s 4 th contract.

    He already did the “highest in the league” thing.

    It’s about his legacy now. More stats, more rings.

    He’ll do a sweetheart deal to get some better players around him, and retire a Saint whenever he feels like it.

  2. jerlee7 says: Feb 11, 2016 5:38 AM

    Right, team first guy. SURE he will take less. Team first. That was sarcasm.

  3. 6thsense10 says: Feb 11, 2016 6:29 AM

    eljefedelmundo says:
    Feb 11, 2016 5:13 AM

    Drew Brees is not giving any sweet heart deal nor should he. When was the last time an NFL team gave a player without any leverage a sweetheart deal?

  4. nenlain says: Feb 11, 2016 6:30 AM

    Since when does Drew Brees do “sweetheart” deals?

  5. dretwann says: Feb 11, 2016 6:58 AM

    As fans we can be hilarious. We assume passion and “love of the game”, competition etc are the rules of the day. All the while we conveniently ignore the business and the #1 rule of business- make as much as you can when you can. To do otherwise makes no business sense.

  6. sb44champs says: Feb 11, 2016 8:39 AM

    This is Drew’s 4 th contract.

    He already did the “highest in the league” thing.

    It’s about his legacy now. More stats, more rings.

    He’ll do a sweetheart deal to get some better players around him, and retire a Saint whenever he feels like it.
    ==========================
    The only thumbs down are from those that don’t want it to happen (Vikings and Failcons fans lol)

  7. jagsfanugh says: Feb 11, 2016 8:40 AM

    Brees demands an answer to this article.

  8. doubleogator says: Feb 11, 2016 8:54 AM

    Why even talk about him being cut? That was never even a thought by the Saints to cut him so why even throw that into the equation?

  9. dynastyposeiden says: Feb 11, 2016 8:59 AM

    more rings ? he was lucky to get 1 … the stats no doubt as he has always been the poster child for statboy QBS ever glorified in the touch football goodell era

  10. ivydude81 says: Feb 11, 2016 9:17 AM

    ^^^^ what from his past has shown he might give the saints a sweetheart deal?

    Brees is still upset about the Graham trade and knows another ring with their current talent is out of the question. He will continue to put up stats and pad his wallet. Rings however are out of the question.

  11. dccowboy says: Feb 11, 2016 9:17 AM

    So where is the caustic ‘kicking the can down the road’ criticism of the Saints? You know, the way this would be covered if a certain other team had this problem and was contemplating the same thing.

  12. floratiotime says: Feb 11, 2016 9:22 AM

    Drew wants the cash … the Saints can tank for all he cares. He’s a greed monster.

  13. newsletterczar says: Feb 11, 2016 9:33 AM

    I do not understand the hate on Brees; he took the money as just about anyone would. If the Saints where not paying out money to Junior Galette and other players not on the roster and/or drafting better so the players on the roster are making the rookie pay scale is his (don’t get me wrong 30 mil is a lot of money for one player) salary as big a thing?

  14. ariani1985 says: Feb 11, 2016 9:34 AM

    Greed Gate!!!! All he cares about is that his wallet gets an explanation!!!!!

  15. billsbackto81 says: Feb 11, 2016 9:34 AM

    Brees has absolutely handcuffed this organization with his contract. He brought NOLA a SB and probably feels this is his just due. He’s already proven there are not sweet heart deals or loyalty discounts on the table. Pay Me! Quite honestly, can’t say I blame him.

  16. mongo3401 says: Feb 11, 2016 9:42 AM

    NO poster boy for cap hell. Bree’s hasn’t helped NO do squat the last few years and 2016 will be the same. NO is a dumpster fire both the team and its beat down city.

  17. intrafinesse says: Feb 11, 2016 9:49 AM

    The Saints are poorly managed.
    They did poorly last year and are not close to becoming a serious play off threat unless they have unprecedented success in this years draft and come up with 3 pro-bowl players and 2 other solid starters..

    (i.e. find a Richard Sherman in the 5th, Odell Beckham in the 1st, Alshon Jeffrey in the 2nd, and 2 other good players)

    They should have traded Brees for a handful of good draft picks. Retaining an aging Brees doesn’t help them much. Instead they should start rebuilding.

    As for Brees, he has a lot of money, does he want more, or does he want another ring? Only he can decide.

  18. sb44champs says: Feb 11, 2016 9:53 AM

    Brees is worth every penny ever paid to him… Top 5 in offense every year he’s been with Saints, SB44MVP, 1st Ballot HOFer and Top 5 in every major statistical category for all-time QBs…YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Feb 11, 2016 10:11 AM

    The Brees hate is preposterous. He put them on the map after decades of being the Aints. Amazing how many people forget what that championship felt like. The organization pushed the inevitable cap hit from trying to keep the window open for another down the road and now it has to be dealt with.

  20. mattseas says: Feb 11, 2016 10:48 AM

    Brees knows one hit could end his career. He’ll gladly take more guaranteed money for a restructuring, which will lower his cap.

  21. purplegreenandgold says: Feb 11, 2016 10:54 AM

    Same story…same comments….same people

  22. mogogo1 says: Feb 11, 2016 11:07 AM

    I doubt Brees does any sort of sweetheart deal, nor should he. With the exception of Tom Brady you can’t find a top QB who isn’t taking as much money as they can.

    But Brees earns his money which is more than can be said of a lot of other players on the Saints’ roster. This next year is a big one for them. If they can’t make some progress on defense, in particular, there will start to be some serious questions about Sean Payton. He’s the highest paid coach in the league and hasn’t really been earning that the last couple years.

  23. ctattles says: Feb 11, 2016 11:14 AM

    Bree’s looked done a year or two ago. I think last seasons play was his last push.

  24. ilovefoolsball says: Feb 11, 2016 11:41 AM

    Brees is still one of the top QB’s in the league. I’d take him over other QB’s who made the playoffs like Palmer, Manning, Roethlisberger, Bridgewater, Alex Smith, and Cousins no doubt.

  25. dryzzt23 says: Feb 11, 2016 12:37 PM

    Tell me again how NFL players aren’t greedy.

    Brees = uber greedy

    I don’t fault him b/c he should get whatever the market will bear BUT he had better NOT complain/whine about lack of talent around him or how players are “underpaid”.

  26. thetooloftools says: Feb 11, 2016 12:53 PM

    Brees taking one for the team?
    Hometown discount?
    Hahahahhehehehe hohohoho that’s a good one.
    Stop
    Your killing me……

  27. captainwhodat says: Feb 11, 2016 1:25 PM

    ever stop to consider re restructuring that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow…

  28. whodatnhollywood says: Feb 11, 2016 1:27 PM

    I don’t expect Drew Brees to take a pay cut, but I do expect my Saints to be sorry again this year because of his MONSTER salary, selfishness and the team’s inability to sign other players all because of him! Another of my favorite teams, the Lakers, did the same thing with Kobe Bryant, giving him a disastrous contract. They have sucked since! They are now a “glorified D-league” team.

    So, with that said, I’ll believe in the Saints again once Brees is gone, the same as with the Lakers and Kobe. These guys make so much more money from endorsements, their team salaries are ashtray money.

    But imagine if they had the integrity of Tim Duncan, who took pay cuts to bring more talent around him and the San Antonio Spurs like Kawhi Leonard and others. Not only has it extended his career, but he’s in the championship hunt every season because of his unselfishness. Because of that alone, even as a Lakers fan, I have mad respect Duncan and find my self pulling for them.

    Unless the Saints lose their minds like the Lakers and give Brees a 2-year $50 million extension, this salary cap hell will be over in another year. By then, the young QB should be ready and they can build around him.

    I appreciate Brees, but not to the extent of watching the team sink because of one his salary.

  29. BigAlHeBDMan says: Feb 11, 2016 2:03 PM

    Will the Saints team have the same fate as that crocodile that met Brees on the Bear Grylls show?

  30. mrmcdougle says: Feb 11, 2016 2:11 PM

    dynastyposeiden says:
    Feb 11, 2016 8:59 AM
    more rings ? he was lucky to get 1 … the stats no doubt as he has always been the poster child for statboy QBS ever glorified in the touch football goodell era
    —————-

    He has just as many rings as Manning and Brady have without a strong coach and defense that can stop someone. This # of rings dictating QB greatness is way over played.

  31. eljefedelmundo says: Feb 11, 2016 2:30 PM

    BigAlHeBDMan says:

    BiGal- you’re back again? Haven’t seen you since the Paste Yastinkass days on espn…

  32. 23rdusernameused says: Feb 11, 2016 3:29 PM

    not worth 30 MIL, sorry, just not!

  33. sb44champs says: Feb 11, 2016 4:00 PM

    not worth 30 MIL, sorry, just not!
    ======================
    LOL, No QB in the league is worth that much… That’s why Brees is willing to do a restructure before his salary hits 30M…….duh

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