The NFL Players Association formally requested the NFL take a look at whether the New Orleans Saints are negotiating in good faith with exclusive franchise player Drew Brees.
The NFLPA sent a letter to commissioner Roger Goodell asking the league to monitor the Saints' talks with Brees. While Brees said Tuesday he's confident the two sides are nearing agreement and that only "little things" stood in the way of a long-term deal, the pace of the negotiations hasn't been what he and agent Tom Condon might have liked.
Brees and the Saints face a July 16 deadline to reach a new accord, or he'll play the season for the $16.371 million franchise tender. The NFLPA is also representing Brees on Wednesday in a franchise tag grievance to be heard by Special Master Stephen Burbank. The question is the value of the 2013 franchise tag; the NFLPA's position is he'll be owed a 44-percent raise up to $23.785 million if he's again named the franchise player.
While Brees is a three-time franchise player, only two of the instances came with the Saints. The other, in 2005, was his final season with the Chargers. If Burbank sides with the Saints and doesn't count the season in San Diego, Brees would be owed a 20-percent raise up to about $19.595 million.
CBSSports.com first reported the letter sent to Goodell and the NFLPA's next step -- assuming a deal isn't reached before the mid-July cutoff -- of presenting a case to the National Labor Relations Board.
According to the CBSSports.com report, the NFL has been asked specifically to investigate if the Saints are in violation of Article 49, Section 1 of the collective bargaining agreement stating "No Discrimination: There shall be no discrimination in any form against any player by the NFL, the Management Council, any Club or by the NFLPA because of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or activity or lack of activity on behalf of the NFLPA."
Brees hasn't participated in offseason workouts or minicamp and will not commit to attending training camp until his contract status is resolved. He said there was "no chance" he'd skip the regular season and told ESPN Radio on Tuesday that he's "very confident" a contract will get done before mid-July.
Brees' camp was asking for an annual salary average of $23 million over at least five seasons in May. The Saints were offering closer to an average of $18 million for five years, which would match the five-year, $90 million contract Peyton Manning signed with the Colts in July 2011.
Manning, of course, was released and signed a more lucrative deal with the Broncos in March (five years, $96 million). The likelihood of Manning, 36, completing the deal in Denver is remote.