As Saints quarterback Drew Brees pointed out earlier this week, Brees and the team have launched contract talks.
But those talks could take a while.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, a “huge gap” exists between what Brees wants and what the Saints will pay. As a result, nothing is imminent.
That said, the Chris Johnson contract talks demonstrate how quickly things can turn around. But before Brees can push the needle toward his best-case scenario, he may need to get through the 2011 season unscathed, which would give him maximum leverage as of February 2012, once the Saints apply a franchise tag that will put him in line for a one-year guaranteed salary that likely will exceed $17 million. Both Peyton Manning and Mike Vick had to do just that before they could land their new deals.
On the other hand, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady finagled an annual average of $18 million without having to complete his contract year of 2010.
Still, if Brees wants to do a deal now, he’ll necessarily get less than he’d get if he lets the 2011 season play out. The ultimate question for Brees is whether and to what extent he’s willing to shoulder the burden of that ever-present injury risk.