Drew Brees' franchise-tag ruling expected within week

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will know within a week if he'll collect nearly $4 million more than the NFL says he's due if he's franchise-tagged for a third time in 2013.

Brees, who was represented by the NFL Players Association, had an hour-long grievance hearing before arbitrator Stephen Burbank, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, on Wednesday in Philadelphia. The purpose of the hearing was to gain clarity on the interpretation of franchise-tag rules and the contract's total value, and Burbank said he'd rule on the issue within a week, according to a league source.

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NFLPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler later confirmed the ruling timeline, telling The Associated Press "we're going to eagerly await that decision." Lawyer Ben Block presented the NFL's case.

Since Brees was tagged by the Saints this offseason and had been tagged by the San Diego Chargers in 2005, he and the NFLPA believe if New Orleans places the franchise tag on him in 2013, he would be due an increase of this season's $16.4 million tag salary of more than $7 million (around $24 million total).

The counter-argument is that the Saints would only be tagging him for the second time. Brees then would only earn a 20 percent salary increase in 2013 and a total salary of about $19.6 million.

Though this would set precedent for future cases, it could end up being a moot point for Brees. The quarterback and the team are working on a long-term deal that could average between an estimated $18 million to $20 million per season.

That contract has to be finalized by July 16, or Brees must play under the $16.4 million franchise tender for the 2012 season.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89

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