Franchise Tag ruling to make Brees richer, but not as much as you think

We got a ruling from Stephen Burbank on the Drew Brees franchise tag situation. The decision favors Brees in that a tag in 2013 will be his third -- not his second -- and that means his salary would go to $23.5 million.

It's a jump of $4 million from what it could have been which certainly gives Brees some leverage in negotiations.

Keep in mind a tag in 2013 would be unguaranteed money until it is offered and signed by Brees in 2013. That means he would have to be injury free after the 2012 season or at least be able to return to the lineup in 2013 at a reasonable time.

There is still risk for Brees -- something he experienced when he was 27 years old and had to go find work. Next year, he will be 34, so age and injury risk have to play a factor in his decision to take a long-term deal or turn one down and risk the tag business twice.

For three months I have predicted the deal would come in at $19.9 million per season for five years. The new ruling could mean it comes in at $20.1 million over five. The Saints will probably guarantee $40 million over the life of the contract which takes the 2013 unguaranteed risk out of the formula for Brees. But I would think only parts of the 2014-16 contracts would have guaranteed money.

The Saints know they are guaranteed to have him for the next two seasons -- one year at a time -- and they have an entire roster to build and maintain. Brees knows what he's worth if he's healthy and he knows what he's worth if he's injured or 34. The deal will get done shortly in my opinion and it will be slightly richer than it was going to be a day ago but not as much as you might think.


Pat Kirwan has been around the league since 1972, serving in a variety of roles. He was a scout for the Cardinals and Buccaneers, a coach for the Jets as well as the team's Director of Player Administration where he negotiated contracts and managed the team's salary cap. He is the author of Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look, and the host of Sirius NFL Radio's Moving the Chains.
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