Let's face it. We all love Drew Brees.
Without a doubt, we'd all love to have the man who shattered Dan Marino's record for most yards in a season be the highest paid player in the history of the NFL. In fact, weren't we all just a bit ticked off that with all that Drew Brees has done, he did not receive the league MVP this year?
As hard as it is to accept, Drew actually played for another team for a few years, the San Diego Chargers. What none of us wants to imagine, though, is the image of Drew suiting up in the future for any team other than the Saints.
The reality is, that could happen. Just ask Colts fans about their Peyton Manning or the 'Niners about Joe Montanna. And that's not to mention Mr. Green Bay, Brett Favre, almost taking the Vikings to the Super Bowl!
To the surprise of few but to the consternation of many, Drew Brees had the franchise tag placed on him by the Saints. So, in effect, Drew is off the market and will in all likelyhood be a Saint this fall. He just isn't currently slated to make as much as he would like to.
The franchise tag means he doesn't have the opportunity to see what the market might bring for his services. Drew won't starve though. He'll make somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 million dollars, which is a neighborhood I can only dream of moving into. I have a feeling that most of you aren't living there yet, either.
While I believe that Drew and the Saints will eventually come to an agreement on a long term contract at a higher dollar value, I have to wonder how much of an impact Manning's now terminated contract with the Colts plays in the negotiation.
Last year, with much fanfare, Colts management led by Bill Polian, announced a deal with Manning to keep him in a Colts uniform for what was assumed to be the remainder of his career. In the first year of the new pact, the superstar quarterbback would earn over 20 million dollars. And then, the problems started.
For that kind of money, the Colts expected Manning to have the Indianapolis team in or contending for a few more Super Bowls. What they got was a sidelined superstar suffering from the inability to heal from several neck surgeries.
Manning would not take a single snap in the 2011 season. What he did take were the paychecks that were guaranteed. Imagine the heartache felt on both sides of that deal!
Manning, an uber competitor having to watch his team slide into an abyss while he could do nothing but watch and grimace. And imagine, if you can, owner Jim Irsay signing checks for over 20 million dollars to a man who couldn't play the game.
While Irsay still owns the Colts, Bill Polian and his son and most anyone associated with his regime are gone from Colts headquarters. Manning, due another couple of dozen million dollars is gone as well.
This is professional football. That means, in the end, it is about making a buck, turning a profit. Everyone gets paid on Sundays in the NFL except the honorary tee retrieving kids.
Saints owner Tom Benson is a shrewd businessman and I can only imagine how he would react to any player being paid double digit millions who then couldn't play. I don't imagine it as being very pretty.
So, Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis, considered one of the best in the business, has to tap dance between giving Brees a contract that reflects his incredible accomplishments on the field and off in New Orleans while making sure that he doesn't have to face Mr. Benson to have a big check signed were Drew unable to play for any significant stretches.
No doubt, what Drew wants is what every player wants: guaranteed money. That is the kind of money that comes rain or shine, in sickness and in health until something near death does us part.
Manning got it and so have most major stars in the league. Of course Drew wants it. He deserves it. We want him to have it. But how much guaranteed money he should get is the question.
What makes this dance even more interesting is that both Manning and Brees have the same super agent, Tom Condon. I have to believe that as the agent asks for at least a portion of the moon for his client, Loomis has to have a thought rumbling around in the back of his head that begs the "what if" question.
What if Drew faces some sort of long term injury? What then? What could the Colts have done this season with another 20 million dollars in the kitty to sign players? Could Polian have saved the season and his hide with that cash?
We'll never know but its a lesson that you can believe has been learned by every General Manager in professional sports. I'd guess that the age of huge dollars being guaranteed for the elder statesmen of the league is coming to an end.
Yes, Drew will get some guaranteed dollars and he will never have to worry about how he is going to pay the rent. But for now, the pain in Manning's neck and the cash involved will be a pain in the neck of everyone negotiating a big contract.
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