Jan 14, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) talks with head coach Sean Payton in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If Drew Brees decides to play hardball, he could take control of his contract negotiations with the Saints, Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune writes. But, so far, Brees has been a good solider, saying repeatedly that he wants to retire in New Orleans and indicating that he will not test the free agent market.

In theory, things can change between now and March 14. If the Saints try to lowball the 39-year-old, Brees could threaten to test the open waters to try and regain leverage. Despite his age, Brees would almost certainly garner offers of more than $30MM per year, putting him ahead of Jimmy Garoppolo and just behind the expected annual average value of Kirk Cousins‘ next contract.

Duncan figures that the floor for talks has to be $20MM per year, the average of the current deals for Tom Brady and Matt Ryan. If the ceiling for elite quarterbacks is ~$30MM, then the beat writer guesses that a two or three-year deal with a $25MM AAV and out clauses after each season makes sense for both sides.

While we wait to see how that plays out, here’s more from the NFC South:

  • Former UFC owner Frank Fertitta is heading one of the groups looking to purchase the Panthers, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (on Twitter) hears. If Fertitta’s group winds up buying the team, he’ll have to divest his interest in Station Casinos. Fertitta was a major shareholder in Zuffa LLC, which recently sold the UFC for upwards of $4 billion.
  • Despite rumblings that interim GM Marty Hurney is a shoe-in for the Panthers‘ permanent GM post, Fritz Pollard chairman John Wooten says he’s willing to allow the team’s interview process to play out before raising concerns with the NFL, as Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer writes. The Panthers interviewed multiple minority candidates for the position and it has been reported that Bills assistant college scouting director Lake Dawson is a strong candidate. “They have interviewed three viable candidates. I know that they had one come back again for a second interview. So that’s where they are,” Wooten said. “I think our position is we will let the process as it relates to the investigation run its course, and see what goes from there.” The Panthers are currently in a holding pattern as Hurney is under league investigation for harassment accusations raised by his ex-wife.
  • This week, PFR’s Dallas Robinson broke down the Buccaneers‘ top three offseason needs.
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This article first appeared on Pro Football Rumors and was syndicated with permission.

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