The Saints reportedly are poised to make Drew Brees the highest-paid player in NFL history, and the Saints allegedly aren’t negotiating with Brees in good faith.
We’d hate to see how much money the Saints would be offering Brees if they were acting in good faith.
Lost in the contention that Brees’ role in the 2011 labor talks are being used against Brees in his contract talks is the fact that the Saints have repeatedly made very significant offers to Brees. In 2011, they made an offer that would have put Brees in the Peyton Manning/Tom Brady ballpark. In February 2012, they applied the exclusive version of the franchise tag, which put Brees in line for $16.371 million this season, more than $1 million per game. In March 2012, they offered another deal that would have made him the highest paid player in the league. In June 2012, they upped the ante once again.
So where’s the bad faith?
Not giving a guy everything he wants isn’t bad faith. Not blowing out a team’s salary cap for one player isn’t bad faith.
If the Saints aren’t happy with their most important player because of his role in the labor talks, then the other 31 teams presumably like him even less. So bad faith would have been, at a minimum, using the non-exclusive version of the franchise tag, since no other team would have signed him to an offer sheet and given the Saints a pair of first-round picks if the Saints hadn’t matched.
Bad faith also would have been giving him no franchise tag at all, thrusting him onto a market full of teams that would have collectively lowballed him, as their way of blackballing him.
Drew knows deep down that the Saints aren’t sticking it to him, because of his role in the CBA talks or for any other reason. That’s why the initial report from Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com regarding the union’s contention that the Saints are discriminating against Brees contains the ludicrous suggestion that “The quarterback did not play a role in the decision . . . with the union moving forward of its own accord.” Brees wants to squeeze the Saints with an unfounded claim without getting his hands dirty, so he’s hiding behind the notion that the NFLPA has decided on its own, without regard to the wishes of a member of its Executive Committee, to make an outlandish charge that the Saints, by offering consistently to make him the highest-paid player in the league, are screwing him.
Brees has built up plenty of equity in New Orleans and elsewhere over the years. If Saints fans take the time to see through this one, it could all be gone in the blink of an eye.
None of this changes the fact that the Saints foolishly have delayed getting this deal done. With coach Sean Payton suspended for the year and with the franchise otherwise in disarray, Brees’ presence during the entire offseason program should have been regarded as critical to a successful effort in 2012 — especially since the Saints’ postseason performance hinges on home-field advantage unlike any other team in the league.
The Saints also had been leaking that Brees wants more money than he actually has demanded. Stupid, yes. Bad faith, no.
The Saints need Brees. The Saints love Brees. But his role in the CBA talks is irrelevant to the ongoing inability to work out a long-term deal, and Brees knows it.