Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Saints, Brees Far Apart on Guarantee

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Saints, Brees Far Apart on Guarantee

Article excerpt

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints still must close a significant gap in guaranteed money if they are to agree on a five- year contract worth about $100 million by Monday's looming deadline for a long-term deal.

The sides were reportedly more than $10 million apart in the guaranteed portion of the contract.

The stakes are high for both sides and the negotiations have lasted for months. Brees, who is 33 and entering his 12th season, has never before had the chance to negotiate a contract on par with the elite quarterbacks of the game.

The Saints, meanwhile, risk alienating the best quarterback in franchise history, not to mention their fan base, by failing to make an offer to his satisfaction by Monday -- the deadline for players with the franchise tag to sign long-term deals.

Brees has said he does not want to play under a one-year contract with no long-term security in the coming seasons. He did it once before, with costly consequences, when he played under the franchise tag for San Diego in 2005 and wound up with a career-threatening injury to his throwing shoulder.

That injury led him to accept a six-year, $60 million deal with New Orleans in 2006, which left him playing for well below market value in the past few seasons, even as he was setting club and league records.

Brees had hoped that an extension would be done before 2011, but when it was not, he decided not to hold out and played without the security of a long-term contract. He remained healthy the entire season and passed for an NFL single-season record 5,476 yards.

Brees considered that an act of faith in the Saints, and now he is insistent that that faith be returned in the form of a contract that not only gives him the highest average annual salary in the game, but also guarantee a significant portion of his salary.

Saints GM Mickey Loomis said he understands that Brees' contract is the most important deal on which he has worked in his career. …

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