Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/3/12

Quarterback Drew Brees won his grievance regarding his franchise tag status under the collective bargaining agreement.

The ruling by arbitrator Stephen Burbank means that if Brees and the Saints cannot reach a multi-year deal before the July 16 deadline and Brees plays out the final year of his contract, New Orleans cannot use the franchise tag on him beyond 2013. And the franchise number for 2013 would call for a 144 percent raise to $23,574,240, according to ESPN.

The NFL Players Association asked Burbank to review the case, claiming that since the Chargers used the franchise tag on Brees after his 2005 rookie contract expired, the Saints could not use it more than twice. The collective bargaining agreement states that players cannot be franchised more than three times.

"We are very pleased that that the arbitrator agreed with the NFLPA that the correct interpretation of the "third time" Franchise Player designation in the CBA applies across clubs, and a player's rights will not be unfairly hindered if different clubs designate him as a Franchise Player during his career," the NFLPA said in a statement.

"The arbitrator properly rejected the NFL's strained interpretation of the CBA language, which ignored the fact that a Franchise Player designation is a narrow exception to the overall free agency structure. This ruling will help all Franchise Players in the future.

"We are very happy that Drew Brees has clarification on this matter, and we hope that it facilitates a successful negotiation for Drew and the Saints."

If the Saints used their exclusive franchise tag on Brees in 2012 and 2013, they would pay him $39,945,240 over those two seasons.

The sides continue to discuss a multi-year deal in advance of the July 16 deadline, after which franchised players can only play for their one-year tender offers.

Brees said last week that holding out for an entire season is not an option.

"I would never sit out a football season," Brees said on ESPN's 'Outside the Lines.' "I love this game too much, I love my team too much, but obviously there's a lot that can happen between now and then, so let's just hope we can get a long-term deal done."

Brees was unhappy with being given the Saints' franchise tag worth about $16.3 million, and the sides have until July 16 to reach a long-term agreement. The exclusive franchise tag prevents him from talking with other clubs, but Brees is holding out for a multi-year contract.

There is ammunition aplenty in negotiations. His agent, Tom Condon, has represented Peyton Manning in two separate long-term deals in a nine-month span. Both deals exceeded $90 million in total value; Manning was released by the Colts in February and signed with Denver as a free agent.

Brees has sought a contract for $23 million per year, while the Saints are closer to $18 million.

The Saints will take an approximate $14.4 million salary cap hit if he plays under the franchise marker.

Brees hasn't participated in training activities or minicamp with the Saints while his contract situation is resolved.

Brees is coming off a strong season, getting named the 2011 Offensive Player of the Year after setting several key NFL single-season passing records. Brees is now atop the league's charts with records of 468 completions, 5,476 yards passing and a 71.2 completion percentage.

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