By RICHARD FISCHER
Hotard Huddle Contributor
In the last few days you’ve read several puff pieces from the local media applauding the Saints’ deal with Drew Brees.
And although I am pleased with the terms of the contract (at least until we hear how much the Saints are on the hook for against the cap in 2018-20 after the contract voids), this isn’t one of those pieces.
So if you want to continue kneeling at the altar of a bad GM with a bad plan, go everywhere else on the Web.
Here, we bring you the cold, hard truth, because, remember, both sides have to agree to a deal or it doesn’t get signed.
And as a cynic, as all good journalists are (if I’m still considered a journalist after leaving the profession for much happier pastures), I can’t stop wondering if there’s an underlying reason why Brees agreed to these terms – one that should scare fans of the Black and Gold.
Having previously been slated to make $20M this season, all the deal really is for him is a one-year, $24.25M extension.
When lesser quarterbacks like Joe Flacco, Eli Manning and Matt Ryan are also averaging an annual salary north of $20M, and Brock Osweiler and Tyrod Taylor just inked deals for an average annual salary of $18M per year, two years and $44.25M for Brees is a freaking bargain.
But I’m not here to talk about the dollars. That only shows where Brees’ market is, even if he slips a little.
I’m talking about the years, in case Brees slips a lot.
In a league where Trevor Siemian, Blaine Gabbert, Dak Prescott, Shaun Hill, Case Keenum and Ryan Fitzpatrick, among many other meh or worse quarterbacks, are starting Week 1, the cynic in me just can’t help but wonder why Brees took what amounts to a one-year extension for not appreciably much more money. Obviously, not all of these quarterbacks’ respective teams will be in the market for a signal caller next offseason, but it goes to show you that at an absolute minimum, Brees would be a massive upgrade for several teams in the league.
If Brees had let hit contract run out following the 2016 season, one of two things would have happened. The Saints would franchise tag him for an absurd $40+M, an unlikely occurrence. Or Brees would be an unrestricted free agent who could start a bidding war for years and dollars among QB-bereft teams. Either way, he wins big if he doesn’t decline.
And before you come back with he’ll be 38 next offseason, hurting his market, never forget that desperate teams do desperate things. Players don’t get what they deserve. They get what they can leverage. We’ve seen aging vets on the cusp of decline leverage far more than they deserve time and time again in sports.
I also don’t want to hear that he did the team a solid by accepting this contract extension. No chance. Dude is a very vocal member of the Player’s Union. He’s not taking a penny or a year less than he can get if for no other reason than it sets the market for other players.
Of course there’s a huge IF that goes along with Brees getting a fat contract in a now-parallel universe next offseason, and that’s IF he doesn’t show signs of decline in 2016.
So, in a nutshell, Brees, coming off a tremendous season, takes a one-year extension with a mild raise, pushing the possibility of breaking the bank next offseason completely off the table.
That just doesn’t add up to me.
Brees finally sees the cliff directly in front of him and wants to secure one final extension with the Saints before his car uncontrollably goes tumbling over it, and thanks to the Saints extending Brees at a time where they had the most of their little leverage on him (a rare compliment for the Saints’ front office from me, I know), he could only muster one extra year.
Brees is a smart guy, and he undoubtedly saw how aging vets Peyton Manning and Brett Favre went from far above league average to completely unplayable practically instantaneously.
As a Saints fan and someone who probably gave up too much for Brees in a fantasy league this spring, I hope I’m wrong.
Believe me, I really do.
But guys who see themselves playing well into the future don’t take a little now and forfeit the chance to make a lot later. They just don’t.
So I’m worried that the Brees window is closing faster than we realize, and all of you should be too.
Now…… Go out there vs. Oakland, Drew, put up 300 yards and three touchdowns and show me I’m wrong!