Drew Brees could have entered his 11th season opener with the Saints on Sunday with the prospect of maximizing his value in free agency potentially ahead, but he opted for short-term security instead of an all-out leverage battle with the franchise, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com writes.
Had a soon-to-be 38-year-old Brees hit the market in 2017, he would have widespread interest despite his age due to the extreme seller’s market that’s emerged at the quarterback position. But Brees did not want to leave New Orleans, per Triplett, inducing him to take the Saints’ one-year extension offer and probably give the team the win in this standoff.
Brees knowing a one-year extension was the end game could have led him to making this deal in March, which would have helped the Saints add to this year’s team after being equipped with cap savings. But Triplett points out he was hoping for a longer-term deal and didn’t need to make a concession until that was off the table.
Here are some more reactions from the Saints keeping Brees off the free agent market.
- The Saints essentially gave Brees a franchise tag one year early, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap posits. In 2017, Brees will make barely $5MM more than Kirk Cousins will on the tag price this season. Fitzgerald notes the New Orleans quarterback gave up his leverage of being able to command a top-market contract at age 38 and the kind of injury protection peers received recently in order to help the Saints. Brees earning $24.25MM in new money puts him well behind the class of 2004 QBs, who were each going into at least an age-33 season at the time of signing last year. Although, Brees is two years older than Eli Manning, nearly three years older than Philip Rivers and more than three years older than Ben Roethlisberger, so a four-year deal made less sense for the Saints than such a pact did for those respective teams. Fitzgerald adds $40MM in new guarantees should have been Brees’ floor instead of the $24MM+ he ended up receiving.
- By adding the three voidable years to the back of Brees’ extension, the Saints created some issues in 2018. Per Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (Twitter link), the Saints will be hit with an $18MM cap charge in ’18 when the three years void. Corry notes the prorated bonus won’t be spread out from 2018-20 since a void accelerates them onto the ’18 cap sheet. As the cap expert points out, via Twitter, the 2012 Saints carried a $4.92MM cap charge as a result of Brees’ ’12 and ’13 years voiding. Corry expects the quarterback’s 2018-20 seasons to void five days after the 2017 season ends (Twitter link).
- The belated deal to decrease Brees’ 2016 cap number continues the Saints’ pattern of pushing financial problems down the line, Andrew Brandt of TheMMQB.com tweets. New Orleans again chose to release multiple cornerstone players this year for cap purposes, and reducing Brees’ $30MM cap number for 2016 will be difficult to create much benefit now after factoring that figure into their plans throughout the offseason.
- Brees’ consistency should give the Saints comfort that he won’t deteriorate quickly, Nick Underhill of The Advocate writes. While the organization likely won’t have to account for those kind of aging questions on this deal, Underhill notes the Saints needed to keep Brees to avoid a Browns-esque future without a quality quarterback. With eight straight 30-touchdown pass seasons and six 4,800-yard+ passing campaigns, Brees has been the NFL’s most statistically proficient quarterback on a year-to-year basis since he joined the Saints. And playing most his games in domed stadiums or comfortable weather, with Sean Payton continuing to call the shots, should help Brees as he moves further into his late 30s.