Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 7/11/12

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 07: Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 7, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

With the deadline to sign players to a long term contract less than a week away, several big names are still trying to etch out deals with their teams. Among them are running backs Ray Rice and Matt Forte, but perhaps the biggest surprise is New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

After the 2011 season, Brees’ previous six year contract with the Saints expired.  According to USA Today, under that contract, Brees earned an average of $10 million each year—a steal for the Saints given how well Brees has played. But now the Saints can no longer get away with paying their elite quarterback such a low salary as Brees expects to be paid upwards of $20 million a year in a long term contract, says ESPN. The Saints however have been reluctant to offer such a contract that would make Brees the highest paid quarterback in the league. It would better Peyton Manning’s $19.2 million average over his contract’s first three years and Tom Brady’s $18 million average.

Since the Saints wouldn’t give in to Brees, the Saints had to use a franchise tag worth $16.3 million on a one-year tender on Brees so they wouldn’t lose him to free agency. If the two sides don’t agree on a deal by the July 16th deadline, Brees either signs the tender or doesn’t play. According to NBC Sports, the Saints think Brees will eventually sign the tender, but Brees is hesitant to do so.

"I've played under the franchise tag before back in 2005 (with the San Diego Chargers)," Brees said during an interview."That ended with 13 anchors in my right shoulder and a 24 percent chance of playing football again. That didn't really work out too well for me.”

Rather than taking the risk that Brees might sit out the season, the Saints should give him the long-term deal that he wants. Brees is only 33 years old and seems to be in his prime of his career, having coming off one of his best seasons in the league in which he threw for 5,476 yards to break the single-season record for most passing yards. The Saints quarterback also had the most touchdowns (46) and the highest completion percentage (71.2%) among all quarterbacks in 2011. But even before his record breaking season, Brees was well known as a top quarterback, highlighted by his MVP performance in the Saints Super Bowl win in 2009. It is because of Brees’ consistency over the past few years that Ron Jaworski has ranked Brees as the No.2 quarterback in the league on SportsCenters’ Jaw’s QB Countdown.

“Brees’ last three seasons have been the most accurate stretch any quarterback has strung together in NFL history,” Jaworski said. “What have I always said is the most overlooked element of quarterbacking? Accuracy. Brees possesses many attributes of high-level quarterbacking. But there’s no question that his consistent success over time has been mostly a function of his remarkable ball control.’’

On the SportsCenters’ segment which ranks the top 30 quarterbacks in the league, Brees beat out 28 of the league’s best quarterbacks, including New England Patriots’ Tom Brady and the Denver Broncos’ newest quarterback Peyton Manning. Brees is therefore an elite quarterback, but has not been treated like one. According to USA Today, Brady, along with top ten quarterbacks Eli Manning and Philip Rivers agreed on new contracts with their respective teams while they still had one year remaining on their current contracts. The Pittsburgh Steelers decided to ink a deal with Ben Roethlisberger even sooner with two years remaining on his contract. This information along with the fact that Brees is the only quarterback on the list of players waiting to receive a long term deal this offseason, proves that re-signing quarterbacks is a top priority for other NFL teams.

So why is there a hold-up in New Orleans?

The Saints will need their leader more than ever this season especially with middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma and head coach Sean Payton sitting out the entire season due to the bounty scandal. Without Brees, the Saints may very well end up like the Indianapolis Colts who went 2-14 last season without Peyton Manning. After all, Brees has led the Saints to the playoffs four times out of the nine in franchise history. If the Saints want to return for the tenth time and several times after, signing number 9 to a long term contract would be the smart thing to do.




Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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