Some of us are starting to really freak out at this point while others remain calm until March 5th. I tend to be on the latter side of things, based mostly on the track record Mickey Loomis has put together to this point with the Saints. Here’s the deal: if the Saints don’t have Drew Brees’ contract locked in by March 5th, they will put the Franchise tag on him. That means Brees will be stuck signing a one year deal between $14 and $15 million. That’s hardly ideal for either side, but as a worst case scenario it would at least ensure Brees remains a Saint. Of course, should the team franchise Brees, both side are still free to work out a long term deal, but it gives the Saints protection that Brees can’t test the open market.
Here’s my problem with all of this: Brees wants to be a Saint, the Saints want him to stay, and both sides have already agreed this contract will be massive. The hold up is a little puzzling. Jeff Duncan of this Times-Picayune dropped this article today on the situation. He’s right, something doesn’t add up.
My bottom line is this:
while I’m not worried about Brees going anywhere because of the worst case scenario I stated above, franchise tagging him would be a colossal failure by the Saints. You’ve heard all too often by now that the Saints have Carl Nicks, Marques Colston, Tracy Porter and Robert Meachem as high profile free agents along with Brees. They probably won’t re-sign all of them, but hopefully at least some of them return. The thing is, if they franchise Brees, then they can’t franchise another. That’s the beauty of everyone (Brees and the Saints’ organization included) knowing that Brees is coming back. It means there’s the possibility of a deal getting done BEFORE the Saints are forced to apply the franchise tag on him. At this point we don’t know that Nicks or Colston will be back… so franchising one of those two players is infinitely more valuable. This contract needs to be done before March 5th for the sake of retaining other valuable players more than anything else.
So again, while we shouldn’t be worried about Brees staying, we should be FURIOUS as fans if the deal happens after March 5th which potentially prevents us from retaining one of Carl Nicks and Marques Colston at the very least. Losing either would be a huge blow, but losing both would be unforgivable. It would mean in no uncertain terms that Mickey Loomis grossly mismanaged his free agents, and most importantly the Drew Brees contract situation. And that’s the fire Mickey Loomis is playing with right now. I will reserve judgment because Loomis has proven right during his tenure to those who have put their faith in him. So I’m naively remaining optimistic. But if Brees gets franchised, the consequences that will have on retaining Nicks and Colston have to be serious. If they franchise Brees, that doesn’t necessarily mean Colston and Nicks are both gone, but I just think it’s an incredibly stupid and unecessary risk to take. One of Nicks/Colston should never sniff the opportunity of an open market. The fact that it’s gotten this close is already nerve wracking.
Don’t prove me wrong Mickey.