We're less than one week away from the July 16 deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign long-term contract extensions. So it only makes sense that both Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are starting to negotiate through the media. Again.
ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio and CBSSports.com's Larry Holder reported that Brees' camp hasn't responded to the offer the Saints made way back on June 1. Florio also reported there is "growing buzz" in league circles that Brees ultimately will play under the terms of his one-year, $16.3 million franchise tag.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen, meanwhile, reported that Brees has no plans to report to training camp if he does not get a long-term deal. Brees previously said he wouldn't miss the regular season, but it appears he wants to make the Saints sweat to see if he'll miss any camp (or part of the regular season).
So what does this all mean?
Saints fans shouldn't get too anxious. We're close to a deadline, so it's to be expected that rhetoric would pick up in the media. This is all part of the game. Both sides likely are frustrated and want to close the deal, and they're using every last bit of leverage they can before the final negotiation.
It has been widely reported the Saints already have offered Brees a contract that would make him the highest-paid player in the NFL. Mike Triplett of the Times-Picayune believes it would be "stunning" if no long-term deal is reached. We agree.
When you take away all the leverage and negotiating points, you find two very motivated parties. The Saints don't want Brees to be without a contract at this time next year. Brees really won't want to play this season on a one-year contract for less than the average money the Saints are offering him long-term.
Brees already has suffered one career-threatening injury. We simply can't imagine him risking another one while playing under the terms of a one-year deal.
This contract always has made way too much sense not to happen before July 16. That hasn't changed.