League observers envision only one conclusion to the negotiations between Drew Brees, his agent and the Saints, and it consists of Brees signing a deal to stay in New Orleans.
Brees, 32, is in the final year of the six-year, $60 million contract he signed in 2006 and would like to spend the rest of his career with the Saints. The team wants him to stay. That hurdle was cleared long ago. An agreement may not come as quickly as Brees would like, though. Brees' agent, Tom Condon, visited New Orleans this week to hold face-to-face talks with GM Mickey Loomis and work on bridging the significant gap between the two sides. Condon told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that they had "a substantial talk" but wouldn't say how far along they were in negotiations.
Sources pumped the brakes on any speculation that the meeting was a sign of an imminent agreement.
Brees was asked the day after the meeting if there is going to be a cutoff date at some point during the season if he's not satisfied with the progress being made in contract talks. He didn't say whether he had a deadline in mind, but it doesn't appear that the situation is a distraction for him on the field.
"I'm trying to compartmentalize it the best that I can," Brees said. "Obviously I'm involved to an extent. I have other very important things to think about as I prepare for the upcoming games, so that's why I hired my agent. They all have a job to do. I'm hoping it will be done sooner rather than later, but for me really it's about focusing on winning games and trying for it to not be a distraction."
Our sources say they will not be shocked if the Saints do not get a deal done with Brees until the offseason. The Saints will have the option of using the franchise tag on Brees at that time. The Colts and Eagles both used the tag on their superstar quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Michael Vick, this past offseason before eventually signing them to long-term deals this summer.
As for the terms of a potential new deal for Brees — the contracts for Manning and Tom Brady set the bar. Their deals average about $18 million per year, and the expectation is that Brees' next contract will be below, but not far off, that annual average.
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