Winning goes a long way when it comes to relationships in the NFL and it's quite clear winning is making a big difference for Drew Brees and the Saints. We've seen the two sides engage in contract negotiations previously, and they haven't always been extremely amicable. But now Brees, who is a totally unrestricted free agent in March, is saying very clearly he wants to stay with the Saints.
Brees isn't just a normal free agent either -- the Saints have ZERO power to keep him on the roster, because Brees is no longer eligible for the franchise tag, thanks to Brees' latest contract prohibiting the Saints from utilizing the franchise tag on him, not that they could really use it anyway.
And yet, he does not appear to be using that as leverage against the Saints. Asked by reporters about his intentions for the coming offseason, and Brees said he wants to stay in New Orleans.
"It's the same way I felt two days ago, the same way I felt 12 years ago. That is, I'll be here as long as they'll have me," Brees said, before adding he is "not planning" on talking to other teams in free agency.
That's not to say he won't eventually utilize other teams -- the Broncos or Cardinals perhaps? -- as leverage. Brees said it is too close to the end of the season to have any sort of plan.
"We're just two days removed," Brees said. "I really haven't given it a ton of thought, other than I know where mindset's been the whole time."
Brees also took to social media to let the world know about his intentions.
I love you Who Dat Nation. And I love our team. We are destined for great things— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) January 15, 2018
The long-time Saints quarterback, as synonymous with the franchise as any other player in the history of the Saints, made it clear he sees a "great window of opportunity" for the core players on the Saints franchise and wants to be a part of it. The Saints added talent in the most recent draft, bringing in potential OROY Alvin Kamara, potential DROY Marshon Lattimore, safety Marcus Williams and offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk.
The Saints should be good again in 2018, assuming they have Brees. The cannot guarantee he is on the roster. Everything about his future is on him, if he so chooses.
Brees was given the franchise tag once in San Diego when he played for the Chargers and then hit with the tag again before the 2012 offseason by the Saints, before the two sides. As a result, a third franchise tag would cost the Saints a 44 percent increase over Brees cap hit from the previous year. That would peg a tag for Brees north of $27 million, but it's irrelevant anyway, because the contract he signed previously explicitly prohibits the Saints from tagging him.
That latest contract waswith the Saints through 2017; the but the team blanched, largely concerned he might decline quickly at his advanced age.
Brees did not decline in 2017. Statistically he wasn't as voluminous as in years past, but he very quietly set the NFL record for completion percentage in a single season and the Saints were balanced and dangerous on offense.
If you have any questions about his ability to play, may I refer you to the second half of the Saints near playoff comeback against the Vikings? Brees was vintage against the NFL's best defense.
The Saints will want to bring him back. And Brees clearly wants to be back. But if the Saints aren't willing to give Brees what he wants in terms of a contract, it's not out of the question the quarterback would inquire into the open market about potential options and contracts available. If someone like the Broncos or Cardinals or Redskins were willing to give him a $90 million deal over three or four years, the Saints may find themselves in a precarious situation.