NEW ORLEANS – He has broken record after record and helped bring the Saints to the Super Bowl. But with two days before a negotiation deadline, New Orleans still wasn't able to come to a long term deal with quarterback Drew Brees.
As a last resort to make sure he stays in New Orleans for at least another year, the team slapped an exclusive franchise tag on him.
Who Dats have strong reactions.
“Drew Brees is the Saints. Remember 40 years with no playoff wins? Well Drew Brees brings respect to the city of New Orleans, the team of the Saints, and the state of Louisiana,” said Don Breaux, a Saints fan from Baton Rouge. “Drew Brees should get paid his money, and let's play football.”
“The Saints kind of looked like the bad guys at first, but it seems like to me, Drew is kind of wanting more than what, I mean, yesterday they reported what they offered him, [to be] the top paid player in the NFL,” said Tony Campiso, a Who Dat from Marrero.
Before the 2011 season began, Brees was reportedly offered a contract for the highest pay in the league. But sports analyst Mike Detillier said the 33-year-old would have been smart not to sign if the top dollars only kicked in toward the end of his contract.
“Injuries can happen,” said Detillier. “You may not be around at 37, 38, 39 to collect that money as a player.”
The franchise tag would give the Saints until July 16 to come to a deal with Brees, but some fans say it can't come soon enough.
“They need to make a long-term commitment, bottom line,” said Martha Grant, of Lafayette. “Drew Brees has done so much for the franchise, I think we need to step up and show our commitment to him.”
“Most of the Who Dat fans and Saints fans had thought something would have been done by now in terms of getting Drew Brees' contract signed,” said Terry Lain, of New Orleans. “Sometimes you just scratch your head and wonder why it's taking so long.”
The move has ramifications that go beyond Brees. That's because, under the rules of a franchise tag, Brees will become one of the top paid quarterbacks in the league for a year. And that eats away at the salary cap, weakening the Saints negotiating power with free agents like Marques Colston and Carl Nicks.
“You have the best offensive lineman in pro-football now unprotected in Carl Nicks,” said Detillier. “You have your best receiver in Marques Colston, unsigned.”
Experts said a franchise tag isn’t ideal for anyone involved.
“That is a real mystery to me of why the greatest football player who has ever put on a Saints uniform, has gotten down to this point,” said Detillier.