How Should Saints Proceed with Brees, Knowing Franchise Tag Numbers?: Fan’s Perspective

New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees will be a member of the 2012 New Orleans Saints. You can take that to the bank. The question is, will the Saints sign him to an extended contract or will they franchise tag him for one season? The consequences of this decision are holding up what most Saints fans are thinking should be an easy decision. Take a closer look at the New Orleans Saints options with Brees and their other free agents.

Drew Brees, Carl Nicks and Marques Colston

My hypothesis is that Brees, Nicks and Colston are the Saints top free agent priorities. However, I can make a case for Tracy Porter being in that number, maybe even ahead of Colston. Clearly, Jimmy Graham is now Brees' favorite target and Brees can make any decent WR a star. And since the Saints defense is so bad, New Orleans needs to keep all the good players they can. However, I'm sure the Saints consider Colston the higher free agent priority, so I will focus on him over Porter.

Option #1: Franchise Brees, sign Nicks and Colston

The NFL has released its franchise tag numbers at every position for 2012. (You can check out the article listed as my source to see the franchise tag value at each position.) I was surprised at how low NFL QBs are this year. If New Orleans applies the franchise tag to Brees for 2012, it will only cost the Saints $14.4 million.

Option #2: Franchise Nicks, sign Brees and Colston

Wide receivers and offensive linemen are equal in terms of franchise tag value. Nicks and Colston would each cost the Saints $9.4 million as a franchise tag designee. If the Saints put the franchise tag on Nicks, they will then have to sign Brees and Colston to long term free agent deals to keep them in New Orleans.

Option #3: Franchise Colston, sign Brees and Nicks

Options two and three really come down to determining which player the Saints see in New Orleans five years from now. Of course, if New Orleans negotiates in good faith and is smart with the salary cap, they can still sign Colston in 2013. This New Orleans Saints regime has always found a way to stay under the cap and keep its players happy.

Conclusion

Option three is the best choice and option one is the worst. It would seem to be a bargain keeping Brees in New Orleans for one year at $14.4 million dollars. However, Brees is New Orleans. Saints GM Mickey Loomis needs to sign Brees to a long-term contract. If the Saints wait until next year, his value could go up and they may be in for a $120 million contract instead of a $100 million contract.

Unfortunately, Colston is not the priority that Nicks is. Keep Colston for one year to go all in to win the Super Bowl in New Orleans. But as Brees gradually becomes less mobile and more fragile, it becomes imperative to keep him healthy. I believe Brees would be willing to sign a guaranteed contract with most of the money on the back end. This would help the Saints be competitive and still stay under the cap.

Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of the New Orleans Saints. Patrick's favorite Saints season was 2009 when New Orleans won Super Bowl 44.

Source

Jason La Canfora, "Franchise-tag values will be down across the board in 2012," nfl.com

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Updated Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012