Thursday, 01 March 2012 16:11

Is It Crises Yet For New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees?

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drew_breesThis is approaching the crisis stage.

NFL observers are stunned that Drew Brees and the Saints reportedly are still a ways apart on a long-term contract. If the two sides cannot make considerable progress from where they were on Wednesday, the Saints will be forced to use their franchise tag on Brees by the Monday deadline at 3 p.m.

If the Saints can get Brees to a long-term contract worth about $18 million a year, he would have the flexibility to use the tag on two of their prized players, All-Pro guard Cal Nick and wide receiver Marques Colston.

The Saints' salary cap space is hovering somewhere between $20-$25 million. Brees would count $14.5 million against the cap while Nicks and Colston would count about $9.4 million.

Former Saints running back and personnel scout Hokie Gajan said the Brees deal should have been signed before this season.

Last week, Brees told The Times-Picayune he was confident he would reach a deal with the Saints. "There's no doubt in my mind we'll get a deal done," said the quarterback. "I think there's been progress made, but just like everything it's a process. It takes time."

Time is running out.

Colston was Brees' favorite target until the past season before going more to Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles. He signed a new contract with the Saints after his second season, something rarely done. He wants $7 million and a long-term contract this season. He'll get it with another team after he becomes a free agent. He's a No. 1 receiver and will draw much interest from other teams like the 49ers, Giants, Rams and Raiders.

Nicks could become the highest paid guard in the league and doesn't want a tag put on him.

"It's not just about money, but I'd be lying to you if I said money wasn't at least 50 per cent of the reason I'm going if not more," said Nicks. "We play the game for glory and championships, but we also don't play for free."

Nicks is getting nervous as the tag deadline nears. "Man I don't know what to do? My anxiety is on a hundred thousand trillion!...march 5 is a big day!" "Nicks wrote on Twitter earlier this week. "I think I should start a countdown to the 5th...Stuff getting real!"

Putting the franchise tag on Brees could pretty much mean a disaster for the Saints. Brees isn't going to be happy if doesn't get a long-term contract and the last thing the team wants is an unhappy 33-year-old quarterback.

With Brees made the franchise player, the Saints taking up $14 million in cap space, it will pretty much impossible to keep Nicks and Colston.

And the Saints will probably need to cut several more prominent players to stay under the cap. The Saints roster could have a new look this season, but not a better look.

GM Mickey Loomis has a history of managing the salary cap and keeping home-grown talent, so it's not unrealistic to think Loomis could find a way to bring back both Nicks and Colston back.

Miracles happen every day.

More Saints…

While it might not fall in the “miracle” status, every bit helps.

According to NOLA: “The New Orleans Saints will restructure defensive end Will Smith's contract to create salary cap relief, a league source confirmed. Much of Smith's 2012 salary is likely to be converted into a signing bonus, but he will still make the same amount of money.”

 Also, the Saints re-signed receiver Adrian Arrington, long-snapper Justin Drescher and safety Jonathan Amaya and to one-year contracts over the past week. All three were exclusive-rights free agents. The Saints still have to deal with 16 unrestricted free agents...

SOME hither, others yon: Former LSU cornerback Mo Claiborne neither helped or hurt his cause at the Combine. He had the longest arms (33 1/4 inches) in the cornerback group, and his 40-yard dash was 10th among defensive backs, and he seemed the most confident, agile, quick-moving corner in drills. His feet got up and down quickly in his backpedal, and he stayed compact while pedaling and showed the ability to smoothly flips his hips and run with receivers. He was the best coverage in attendance...LSU's spring practice start was pushed back to day to Friday...Michael Jordan his his posh Chicago-area estate for sale for $29 million...

by Ed Staton

(Visit Louisiana Sports and check out the spring clearance sale on LSU, Saints jerseys).

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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