At four P.M. eastern on Monday, July 16, the stare-down between Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints will have reached some sort of conclusion, or at least a turning point. In working toward perhaps the most mutually beneficial agreement ever, the franchise is negotiating with their most important player of all-time. Their most important player of all time, Brees, has more value in New Orleans than anywhere else on the planet. What is standing in the way of a match made in heaven?

Is this a political move by Brees in relation to his executive status in the NFLPA? He has indicated that he would like to pursue a career in politics after his playing career ends. The NFLPA, on Brees’s behalf, stated that the Saints were negotiating in bad faith, but this was after the organization had offered Brees the most lucrative deal in NFL history.

Was it for his sake or the NFLPA’s that Brees’s impasse was related to his litigation to, in relation to a third application of the franchise tag, an astoundingly costly figure, determine whether a player receiving the tag throughout his total career instead of solely his stint with his current club?
What if Brees is not simply electioneering? Does this boil down to the fact that Brees has played a stretch of football as great as or better than any quarterback in the history of the game?

Previous to Brees in 2009, only Dan Marino had topped 5,000 yards in season. Brees has accomplished this twice, albeit after the Saints had shown faith in his injured shoulder after 31 others declared him DOA. In the past three years, Brees has led the league in yards, touchdowns and completion percentage on deep balls, according to Pro Football Focus.

Or has the franchise just been so distracted with Bountygate that they have not been able to properly focus on negotiations?
Dave, the more I think about this situation, the more confused I get. What is really going on? Who will give in first, and how did we ever get here?

Dave’s Response

I could not agree more, Shawn. How in the world has it gotten all the way to this point? Drew Brees is by far the greatest New Orleans Saint of all-time, and if fans out there think that New Orleans has no shot without head coach Sean Payton, it will be far worse without Brees.

Brees not only means so much to his football team on the field as the team’s best player and team leader, but he means more to the city. Drew Brees is a symbol of resurgence that not only signifies the resurrection of the Saints but for the entire city of New Orleans.  

No one needs to be reminded of what happened in New Orleans in the late summer of 2005.  Hurricane Katrina left the great city of New Orleans in shambles. Everything great about the Big Easy was gone.

But on one Monday night just one year later against the Falcons, everything was back. At least it felt like everything came back as the Saints returned to the Super Dome. And the man mostly responsible for that feeling was Drew Brees. He was more than a quarterback; he was a sign of hope that people in the city held onto tightly.

And over the last half decade, the people of New Orleans have grown so close to their Saints watching them win a Super Bowl in 2009. But along with loving the Saints, they love the person who made it all possible even more, Drew Brees.

It is for those reasons, Shawn, that no matter what happens through negotiations, New Orleans fans will probably fall on the side of Drew Brees. He has been their symbol of hope and resurgence before, why would he suddenly change to Ebenezer Scrooge? The Saints front office will be seen as in the wrong and Brees in the right.

There are, however, many wrenches you could throw in this story: Brees’ involvement with the NFLPA, his desire to run for office and the Saints bounty scandal. Rumors have spread that Brees simply does not want to play for a team that targets quarterbacks like the Saints allegedly did. Perhaps, Brees is just that great of a guy.

But this will be something the public will be left to wonder about for years to come. Fans will not know the real story until documentaries are made about it 20 years from now. Then, we can hear both sides of the story and decipher the truth for ourselves. Until then, we will be left to wonder, if this deal is not completed, why a match made in heaven was not meant to be.

Shawn’s conclusion

Like you, Dave, I truly do hope that Brees is taking a moral high ground. He has a long reputation of being one of the truly great guys in the game, in addition to being one of the truly great players and great stories of our generation’s NFL.

Having said that, Brees is an executive member of the NFLPA and their opposition to the Bountygate rulings, supporting a league-wide franchise tag application ruling, and the contentions might smack of a quid pro quo for a little extra leverage in negotiations.

In the end, you are correct that Brees can do no wrong in the eyes of NOLA and most of the NFL-loving world. In fact, having received an offer on June 1 from the Saints for a contract averaging $19.5 million annually, I get the feeling Brees is already holding the record-setting offer he plans to accept. The other situation could be the Brees camp is waiting for the 11th hour to spring their counter-offer, with the Saints being pressured to accept lest they are forced to tag Brees again next year at $24 million.

If he wants to help DeMaurice Smith tie up a few loose ends from the new CBA, then Brees should rightfully do so. He is not only gaining experience in the political world, but also capitalizing on his well-earned pristine stature to help future NFL players. Brees is not the kind of player hesitant to take on a challenging situation, and for this reason I am with you, Dave. We can rightfully plan on seeing him with a fleur-de-lis on the side of his helmet for the rest of his career.