Contract-Year Rumors: Brees, Short, Berry

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis confirmed Wednesday that the team and contract-year quarterback Drew Brees have not made any progress toward a long-term deal, though Loomis added that he’s open to discussions, according to Mike Triplett of Brees revealed last week that the two sides last exchanged offers in March. The 37-year-old future Hall of Famer is set to count an NFL-leading $30MM against the Saints’ cap this year, and he’ll also rake in the league’s second-highest QB salary ($19.75MM).

If the Saints don’t sign Brees by the start of the regular season, which is the deadline the 16th-year man has set, retaining him in the offseason could be difficult. Because Brees has already been a franchise-tag recipient twice, it would cost the Saints $43.2MM to tag him in 2017, notes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. With the tag an unlikely option, free agency will become a realistic route for Brees to take if he and the Saints don’t work something out over the next several weeks.

More of the latest regarding high-profile players with unsettled contract situations:

  • Unlike New Orleans and Brees, the NFC South rival Panthers and defensive tackle Kawann Short are engaged in extension talks, GM Dave Gettleman said Wednesday (via David Newton of Short has expressed dissatisfaction this offseason with his current deal, one that will pay him just over $1MM in base salary in 2016, after he led the Panthers in sacks and forced fumbles last year, and ranked eighth among 123 qualifying interior defenders at Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Fellow D-line standouts like Fletcher Cox and Muhammad Wilkerson have scored sizable deals in recent weeks, and it’s fair to say the 27-year-old Short could look to those pacts as comparables for his next contract. However, while Cox and Wilkerson will average upward of $17MM a year, Gettleman wasn’t willing to go much higher than $15MM per year as of earlier this month.
  • Unhappy with his current status, Chiefs safety Eric Berry is set to skip most or all of the preseason, reports Adam Schefter of (via Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star). Doing that won’t increase the leverage of Berry, whose only options are to sign his $10.8MM franchise tender at some point or continue sitting out. The Chiefs failed to sign the four-time Pro Bowler to a multiyear deal by the July 15 deadline for tag recipients, meaning the two won’t be able to negotiate again until the end of the season. Because Berry isn’t under contract, he’d be able to avoid showing up for of camp and the preseason without facing fines from the Chiefs. Indeed, the 27-year-old looks primed to take advantage of that.
  • The Broncos and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders remain in discussions about a new deal, GM John Elway stated Wednesday (Twitter link via Troy Renck of Denver7). The reigning Super Bowl champions would like to lock Sanders up before the season, according to Elway, who said in June that extending Sanders and two of his teammates – linebackers Von Miller and Brandon Marshall – by mid-July would be “ideal.” Denver has since secured Miller and Marshall, leaving the 29-year-old Sanders as the lone straggler of the group.
  • In the biggest news of the day, the Jets and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick finally ended their squabble over a contract.
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