Report: Saints offered Brees NFL's richest deal; QB declined

As the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees continue contract talks that have frustrated the quarterback, general manager Mickey Loomis refuted a report that he doesn't believe the four-time All-Pro is a "great" player.

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The size of the team's reported contract offer seems to reflect as much.

A league source told on Friday that Brees and his agent, Tom Condon, turned down an offer that would have made the six-time Pro Bowl pick the highest-paid player in the NFL.

The report surfaced one day after three sources told Yahoo! Sports that Loomis, who has led the Saints' negotiations with Brees, recently characterized the quarterback as "very good" in response to him being called "great."

Loomis refuted the report Friday, telling The Times-Picayune it was "ridiculous" to believe he doesn't see Brees as a great player. Though Loomis wouldn't go into specifics about a contract, he added that the team appreciates Brees' greatness.

"We're trying to pay him accordingly," Loomis told the newspaper.

"I have always thought of Drew as a great player," he added. "Always. Even when his shoulder was damaged. That's why we wanted him."

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Sources with knowledge of the situation told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora that Brees has grown frustrated with the negotiations, and the Saints will use the franchise tag on him if a long-term deal can't be reached.

The deadline for teams to use the franchise tag is March 5. The franchise-tag value for quarterbacks is expected to be about $14.4 million.

Reports have suggested the Saints would like to avoid using the tag on Brees, given it could hinder their ability to retain two other key players set to hit free agency -- wide receiver Marques Colston and guard Carl Nicks.

Brees, who led the Saints to their only Super Bowl title in the 2009 season, threw for an single-season record 5,476 yards and 46 touchdowns in 2011 and was voted the NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

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