I’m ready to condemn Mickey Loomis with the official news that Drew Brees has been given the exclusive rights franchise tag. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning both had deals completed long before it ever got to this point with Brees. Mickey Loomis, pure and simple, has failed to do his job the smart way. Tagging Brees ensures he’ll stay a Saint, mind you, but that’s the absolute bare minimum. You see, tagging Brees was also the worst case panic button insurance the Saints kept in their back pocket in case things reached crisis mode. Now they have. And this situation could easily creep into July, at which point a number of terrible things could happen:
1. Brees could bitterly agree to a deal he’s not happy with.
2. Brees could sign a 1 year tender at ~$15 million and we’ll be at the exact same place in a year’s time.
3. Brees could hold out.
4. Brees could request a trade (which Loomis doesn’t have to listen to).
Any of the above scenarios are the awful realities that faces him now that he’s been tagged. On the bright side, yes, he could sign a long term deal that makes him happy but now that free agency is about to start that may no longer be a priority for Loomis as he focuses on retaining players that actually have a chance of leaving. That, in turn, potentially further alienates Brees.
Most of all, Loomis saw this coming. He knew Brees wanted a new deal, he knew his contract would expire, and he knew he would have to open the biggest of all NFL vaults to secure him, and he knew failing to sign Brees would force him to tag Brees… which would expose Carl Nicks to unrestricted free agency. How did it reach this point? Regardless of what happens with Carl Nicks at this point, Mickey Loomis should be criticized for handling this situation poorly. The Saints had a chance to secure Carl Nicks with the tag if they could get this deal done, and they’ve failed to do so. Even if Marques Colston and Carl Nicks both sign long term deals and stick around after the fact, it still remains that Loomis should never have opened himself up to the risk of the player he valued most between the two leaving. Now they both could. I’m not closing the door on either, or maybe even both, returning… but now the Saints will have to bid for their services like any other mercenary free agent off the street, going up what will no doubt be stiff competition. It’s already been theorized that the Dallas Cowboys are prepared to offer Nicks the richest deal in NFL history for an offensive guard. With the news of all the top flight free agent receivers getting franchise tagged, too, Marques Colston is quickly moving up the list of “best receiver available”.
Shame on you Mickey. You saw this coming and you had ample time to avoid it. Where was the sense of urgency in preseason? The heralded upper management in Indianapolis and New England both faced similar situations with superstar quarterbacks facing expiring deals and they handled their business well before it ever got to this point. Mickey Loomis did not, and it begs the question of whether he belongs in the same class with those people. In fact, I think it speaks clearly that he’s not in their league. Some may argue that Loomis is working for the Saints and getting them the most affordable contract possible but now it could easily come at the expense of losing Carl Nicks. Sorry fans, but losing your best players just as they’re entering their prime is bad business any way you cut it. Mickey Loomis has just exposed himself to that very thing, and he could have avoided it. The words “epic fail” come to mind.