Saints place exclusive franchise tag on Drew Brees

The New Orleans Saints have had a pretty busy week, what with "BountyGate" and all, but they managed to find the time to make one major personnel move -- on Saturday, the team placed the franchise tag on quarterback Drew Brees. The move, first reported by Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, will guarantee Brees a salary of at least $14 million in 2012.

Per the new collective bargaining agreement, franchised players earn an aggregate per position based on the last five years of league financials, so placing the tag on a quarterback obviously takes up a very high amount of salary cap room. Because it's the exclusive-rights version of the tag, meaning that Brees isn't even allowed to talk with other teams, that figure should bump up by at least another $1 million when all is said and done, because ERFA players get the average of the five-highest salaries at the position at the end of the restricted-free-agency period.

[Related: How Drew Brees could doom the New Orleans Saints]

That's bad news for the Saints, who now need to negotiate contracts with receiver Marques Colston, guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Tracy Porter, among other free agents -- and they've now forfeited the use of the franchise tag should they fail to come to terms with another key player. Recent reports indicate that Brees and the Saints were as much as $5 million per year apart in their numbers when discussing a multi-year contract.

Brees, who broke Dan Marino's single-season passing yardage record in 2011, has been the face of the franchise since he came to New Orleans as a free agent before the 2006 season.

He's been heavily involved in charity work in the area, and with all the other PR hits the Saints are taking right now, dangling Brees on the open market was a risk no sane person would take. That said, tagging Brees and tying up that much money leaves a lot of roster and financial complications for a franchise that would probably like a do-over on the first few months of 2012.

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