Every Sunday morning our NFL columnist Anthony Stalter will provide his “quick-hits” from around the league.
+ The window to win a Super Bowl is smaller than fans realize. There are teams like the Patriots, Steelers and Peyton Manning-led Colts whose window seems to remain open at all times. But they’re the exception. Thus, the Saints had no choice but to pay Drew Brees what he’s worth. Their championship window remains open because of him so $40 million guaranteed, $60 million guaranteed, $100 million guaranteed – whatever, they had to do it.
+ One head scratchier to come out of this Brees deal is why it took this long to get done. The five-year, $100 million figure that Brees signed for is roughly the same numbers that had been tossed around months ago. So with all the negative press that has surrounded the Saints over these past couple of months, why did Tom Benson and Co. allow this situation to drag on for as long as it did? It’s a moot point now but why the Saints and Brees couldn’t come to an agreement months ago is a tad perplexing. I can’t imagine that the language in this contract was any trickier than any other long-term contract that the Saints have drawn up.
+ That loud noise you heard on Friday morning wasn’t the Brees’ Family celebrating but rather Aaron Rodgers doing back flips while screaming, “Cha-Ching!” Rodgers signed a six-year, $65 million contract back in 2008, which included $20 million guaranteed. Brees received $60 million in guaranteed money so at some point, Ted Thompson and the Packers will need to restructure Rodgers’ deal because the man is now severely underpaid.
+ Need more proof that the NFL had to put a rookie salary structure in place? Brees has completed 3,613 of his 5,479 pass attempts for 40,742 yards and just received $60 million guaranteed as a 33-year-old quarterback. Sam Bradford, before attempting even one pass in the NFL, received $50 million guaranteed after the Rams selected him with the first overall pick in 2010. It was stupid how much money rookies received under the old salary structure.
+ While at his annual golf benefit fundraiser on Friday, Gregg Williams told reporters that he “will coach again” in the NFL. Don’t rule out the possibility that Williams will be coordinating Jeff Fisher’s defense in St. Louis next year. The Rams are going with a defensive coordinator-by-committee approach this season and have yet to fill Williams’ vacant offense at team headquarters. Fisher is severely loyal and if Williams gets the okay from Roger Goodell to begin coaching again, odds have it that he’ll be on the sidelines for St. Louis in 2013.
+ If you’re the Browns, Josh Gordon was worth the risk. Some analysts believe he has first-round talent so why not invest a second-round pick and see if he can’t pair nicely with Greg Little. Outside of Braylon Edwards’ fluke 2007 season, the Browns have lacked a presence at receiver for seemingly forever. If Gordon can make the most of a second chance then Mike Holmgren will be lauded for his risk-taking.
+ Mike Williams will have a hard time latching on to a team after the Seahawks released him on Friday. And even if some team does take a flier on him, it’ll be difficult for him to stick. His 2010 comeback made for a compelling story but he fell off the map last year while catching just 18 passes for 236 yards in 12 games. If Pete Carroll, the man who gave Williams a shot a couple of years ago when the receiver’s career looked to be finished, doesn’t believe he can contribute than who will?
+ Thanks to the trade acquisition of Brandon Marshall and the jettison of offensive coordinator Mike Martz, many people expect the Bears to challenge for a playoff spot in 2012. And hey, why not? They won the division in 2010 and had Jay Cutler and Matt Forte not been injured in 2011, the Bears were a shoe-in for one of the two Wild Card spots last year. That said, Mike Tice has his work cut out for himself when it comes to his offensive line. First and foremost he has to pick between an under-performing J’Marcus Webb and an oft-injured Chris Williams at left tackle, and then hope that 2011 first-rounder Gabe Carimi (who missed 14 games last season) can stay healthy in order to anchor the right side. In the middle, Chris Spencer and Lance Louis were disasters at the guard positions last season and Roberto Garza failed to generate much of a push in the running game. So essentially the hope is that either Webb or Williams emerge as a capable left tackle, Carimi stays healthy and that the interior linemen can’t be any worse than they were a year ago. That’s a lot of hoping.
No other quarterback besides Drew Brees has made it past the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs in the entire 40-plus year history of the New Orleans Saints. He continues to produce outrageous passing numbers, he means more to his team than any other player on New Orleans’ roster, and he wins.
So why the Saints continue to anger him by not giving him a long-term contract is a question worth $20 million on its own. If Peyton Manning, who didn’t take a snap last year, is worth $19,200,00 in 2012 then why are the Saints balking at paying Brees $20-plus million per season?
Sean Payton and Jonathan Vilma are suspended for an entire year. Gregg Williams is gone, Joe Vitt must serve a six-game suspension before taking over as interim head coach for 2012, and three other players have been suspended for their role in the bounty program. Brees is the only true leader that the Saints have on their roster but he refuses to show up to camp until he receives a long-term deal. Why owner Tom Benson refuses to hand Brees a blank check and says, “Write down any number you want – just get out on that practice field and lead this team like you’ve done the past seven years,” is beyond me.
Some insist that Brees is being selfish because he won’t just play under his one-year tender. But if you nearly had your entire career ruined because of an injury to your throwing shoulder, would you play on a one-year deal? The Saints are lucky they even wound up with Brees in the first place. He was set to sign with the Dolphins before Miami’s doctors told the team to pass because they thought he would never throw again. He landed in New Orleans only to team up with Payton and turn the Saints into one of the most imposing offenses in the last five years.
It’s not like Brees’ production has dipped either. He set career highs in competitions, competition percentage, yards, touchdowns and yards per game last season. So while he may be getting up there in age (he’s 33), he shows zero signs of slowing down.
Unless they have a shutdown defense teams can’t win in the NFL without a quarterback. And the Saints don’t have a shutdown defense.
What they do have is a quarterback who posts Hall of Fame-type numbers but he’s extremely frustrated (his words – not mine) by the way his contract negotiations of gone with the team. Considering what he means to the Saints, the city of New Orleans and his teammates, it’s befuddling why Brees doesn’t have a contract yet. And while the Saints still have until July 16 to work out a long-term deal with their record-setting signal caller, why wait?
“This is a big time for our team, especially when you look at what’s happened in this offseason, missing our head coach, Sean Payton,” Brees said. “There should be a sense of urgency and yet it seems like there’s not.”
“We’ve reached out on a number of occasions and at times I’ve been frustrated by the lack of response,” Brees said.
“It’s been extremely frustrating for me,” Brees said. “The negotiation shouldn’t have been this difficult.”
It’s understandable that Brees is frustrated but when you’re talking about a contract of this magnitude, it takes time for the situation to get settled. It’s not like Mickey Loomis woke up one day and forgot what Brees means to this team. And in the wake of the bounty scandal, the Saints are well aware that at some point they’re going to need to provide their fan base with positive news.
It would make everyone in New Orleans feel better if Brees were signed to a long-term contract but it’s only May. There’s a good four months before the regular season starts and a month and a half before players report to training camp. It’s a safe bet that Brees will be donning a Fleur-de-lis on each side of his head next season.
The only thing that would make this story remotely interesting is if the Saints came out and stated that they want Brees to play on his one year tender. If that happens, then the crap will hit the preverbal fan because Brees is unlikely to play on a one-year deal. Not after he’s set the league on fire the past three seasons.
A New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees reacts after walking off the field after a three-and-out against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Banks Stadium in Baltimore on December 19, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
Drew Brees is “livid” about being franchise tagged and not receiving a long-term contract, according to WIST-AM in New Orleans. The radio station cites sources in the Brees camp that he will not sign the franchise tag deal. Brees and the Saints have until July 15 to hammer out a long-term deal. If a deal isn’t struck, Brees must sign the franchise tag deal or hold out.
Brees doesn’t seem like the type to be “livid” about anything, so there’s a chance that this report isn’t accurate. But if it is, how bad could things continue to get in New Orleans?
I don’t think there’s a chance in Hades that the Saints don’t figure out a way to lock up Brees long term, but they’re facing some major issues right now. They’re currently awaiting punishment from the league for their “bounty program” fiasco, their best offensive lineman (Carl Nicks) and No. 1 receiver (Marques Colston) are about to hit the open market, and Brees’ contract situation is a mess. They’re even scheduled to work out Randy Moss on Tuesday for cribs’ sake.
The Saints have been a NFL powerhouse for the last three years but their roster could look very different come next fall. Don’t forget that along with Nicks and Colston, Robert Meachem is also a free agent and there’s talk that middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma will be released. The team did well to hire Steve Spagnuolo to replace Gregg Williams as their next defensive coordinator but their linebacker corps remains weak and outside of Will Smith, the cupboard isn’t exactly stacked with quality pass rushers.
Things will eventually start to stabilize again in New Orleans. But by that point, will they have forked over a couple of draft picks and watched some of their top players depart in free agency?
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees talks to teammates on the bench as the Saints play the Carolina Panthers in an NFL football game in Charlotte, North Carolina on October 9, 2011. New Orleans won 30-27. UPI/Nell Redmond .
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the New Orleans Saints and free agent Drew Brees remain “well apart” in contract talks, which presents a problem with Monday’s franchise tag deadline approaching fast.
As of right now, the issue isn’t whether or not the Saints will be able to re-sign Brees. The issue is whether or not they’ll be able to re-sign him by Monday and therefore avoid having to tag him so he doesn’t hit the open market come mid March. Brees hasn’t given any indication that he wants to leave New Orleans but the Saints can’t risk losing their most valuable player.
If the two sides don’t come to an agreement by Monday and the Saints do use their franchise tag on Brees, then they’ll risk losing fellow free agents Marques Colston and Carl Nicks. Colston is the team’s No. 1 receiver while Nicks is one of the best guards in the league. Both players have stated that they want to return to New Orleans but they’re also due pay raises.
Per Schefter’s report, Brees told the New Orleans Times-Picayune last week that he was confident he would reach a deal with the Saints. But he appears to be targeting a contract that will make him the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL and when you’re dealing with that kind of money, a deal takes time to structure.
But time isn’t on the Saints’ side. Again, the Saints aren’t in immediate danger of losing Brees but if they would be in much better shape if they can get a deal done this weekend and then at least have the option to tag either Colston or Nicks.