NEWORLEANS - As the days tick away with no deal between the New Orleans Saints and quarterback Drew Brees, some of the cracks of frustration are beginning to show publicly with the all-pro quarterback.
Brees granted WWL Radio an interview Wednesday with sports talk host Deke Bellavia to talk about, among other things, the lack of a long-term deal with Saints.
[Listen to the entire interview from WWL Radio.]
'I don't know,' Brees said when asked why a long-term deal hasn't been struck between him and the team. 'It's been extremely frustrating for me. I didn't think that the negotiations should have been this difficult, but here we are.'
Brees chalked up the contract impasse to a lack of communication from the team, which he said has disappointed him at times. 'I know we've reached out on quite a few occasions, and, at times, I know I've been frustrated with the lack of response.'
When asked if he would sign the franchise tender that the team placed on him by July 16 or if he would hold out, Brees declined to answer: 'I'm not even going to think about that. It's a long way away.'
Saints owner Tom Benson had said that Brees and the team were close to getting a deal done when asked about it during a press conference after buying the Hornets. Brees, however, didn't seem to agree. 'Maybe not as close as people have been led to believe,' he said. Brees added that the contract numbers that have been reported and speculated by the news organizations have been 'heavily inflated.'
Brees called the type of money he was seeking from the Saints 'appropriate' and 'reasonable,' adding that he 'took on a lot of risk last year by playing the last year of my contract without anything guaranteed for the future.'
With OTAs and training camp around the corner, Brees recognized the need to get a long-term deal finalized, especially as the team will be without head coach Sean Payton for the season and the possible suspension of players like Jonathan Vilma.
But he hasn't seen the push from the Saints to get a deal done. 'There should be a sense of urgency and yet there's not.'
'I know I'm certainly committed to getting a long-term deal done throughout this entire process,' he said.
Trying to pinpoint what is holding up a deal, Brees simply said, 'It's been a tough off-season for everybody, obviously with the bounty situation and other things. There's been a big distraction over the last few months.'
Brees said his goal is to sign a long-term deal with the team and retire as a New Orleans Saint and he 'certainly hope(s) that is something we can accomplish.'
'Regardless of what happens, my wife and I are always going to have such a strong connection to the city of New Orleans. We're always going to give back, we're always going to have our foundation involved with the city of New Orleans. I just hope that I can finish my career there.'