There’s an interesting quagmire existing in the Bayou: The Saints might have no choice but to either cave to Drew Brees’ demands or spend over $100 million in contracts on their starting guards.
That’s because New Orleans can only place the franchise tag on one man. Negotiations with Brees have moved at a snail’s pace for months, leaving the team less than two weeks to iron out a new contract for their franchise quarterback before having to settle for the tag.
They have approximately $20 million in cap space but will have to find a way to keep Brees, Marques Colston and Carl Nicks with the tag and/or new deals while staying under the cap.
Brees alone might require $20 million a year, but that’s a much more flexible number if he receives it over a four- or five-year span. The tag would pay him about $16 million, all in 2012. No wiggle room.
This is why the Saints have a problem. Even if they don’t keep Colston and rework/release some veterans (something that would hurt quite a lot), they might have trouble keeping Nicks happy.
Nicks apparently told Sirius XM NFL Radio Tuesday that he wants to make more money than fellow superstar guard Jahri Evans, who signed a seven-year deal worth over $56 million in 2010. That means Nicks won’t be satisfied with anything less than $8 million per year, which would see the Saints giving more than $16 million per year and more than $100 million overall to their starting guards.
I realize that we’re talking about two of the best guards in the game, and that both are in their prime. Still, committing that much money (approximately $37 million per season, which is over 30 percent of the maximum payroll) to two guards and a quarterback will be extremely difficult.
Nicks claims he has yet to start negotiating with the team, and with a starting number like that it’s unlikely they get something done in two weeks. That’s why it’s crucial that they come to terms with Brees in order to slap the tag on Nicks and see how things play out.
That would relieve some pressure, but it’s almost an impossible situation overall. If Nicks takes the field in 2012 under the franchise tender for offensive linemen, they’ll still be spending over $14 million on those guards next season, with presumably somewhere between $15 million and $25 million committed to Brees.
Where does that leave Colston and Robert Meachem? Beats me…