After making All-Pro right guard Jahri Evans the highest-paid interior lineman in the game in May 2010, the Saints face a similar situation with the 6-5, 343-pound Nicks.
Nicks, a fifth-round draft pick in 2008 who joined the starting lineup midway through his rookie season, has become arguably the NFL's top guard in his short time with the Saints and is eyeing a long-term deal with the club.
But because Brees holds the key to the Saints' plans going forward for the next five or six years, Nicks has had to sit back and wait for team officials to come up with an offer that will likely make him the highest-paid interior lineman in the game.
That title currently belongs to New England guard Logan Mankins, whose six-year, $51 million deal -- which included a $20 million signing bonus and $30 million in guaranteed money -- supplanted Evans, who got a seven-year, $56.7 million contract from the Saints.
Nicks, who turns 27 in May, could get the franchise tag from the Saints if they come to terms with Brees before Monday's deadline to tag potential unrestricted free agents.
If they can't get Brees' contract done by then, however, Nicks would hit the open market when free agency starts March 13. Nicks has been quite vocal about not wanting to be franchised, which would give him a one-year deal worth about $9.4 million.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, however, has a plateful of issues to deal with in the coming weeks. It all starts with Brees, of course, with Nicks and wide receivers Marques Colston and Robert Meachem, and cornerback Tracy Porter also being among the team's elite free agents.
Nicks said it doesn't add up to have the franchise tag applied to him.
"I think the tag is around $9.4 million, and if you're going to do that you might as well give me a deal because it's not going to be that much a year," Nicks told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "If they tag me it's going to be more than I'd be paid on average, so it doesn't make too much sense to me."
Nicks also said, however, that he's not concerned about the lack of discussions with the Saints so far although his agent, Ben Dogra, was able to speak with team officials at the NFL Combine workouts in Indianapolis.
"This is kind of new to me, so I don't really know what's normal and what's not," Nicks said. "I guess I thought there would be more back-and-forth at this point, but I understand they've got to get Drew and make sure."
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