Anyone who’s ever lived in a country setting where the nearest town is a 20-minute drive knows the power that yard sales hold over a certain demographic that usually has far too much disposable income and time.

Yard sales target the most eager junk collectors. They’re typically a little older (+50), and they spend their weekends in the summer rising with the sun before congregating at Tim Hortons, flipping through a local paper that lists the day’s front yard collections of old pans, and then departing on their planned strategic route. They then bargain relentlessly and embarrassingly, coming home with a box of old National Geographic magazines that were marked for $5, and they proudly purchased for $3.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis likely has several rooms filled with National Geographic and its finest work. His hidden love for yard sale foraging is one way to explain his stubborn classification of Brees, and his frugal bargaining.

In his report last night Yahoo’s Jason Cole cited three league sources who said that Loomis has called Brees “very good” instead of “great.” This is troubling and confusing, because a quarterback who established the new all-time record for passing yards in a season while leading the league in completion percentage (71.2), and finishing second in passer rating (110.6) sure seems pretty great.

In fact, Brees looked better than great. He was spectacular.

But there’s a deeper motivation here, and Loomis’ penny pinching is motivated by more than just a need to secure long-term financial stability with a more reasonable contract for Brees. With roughly $20 million in cap room, Marques Colston and Carl Nicks are dangling too, so Loomis is doing his job, which is to minimize damage.

That’s led to a gap of roughly $5 million as of Thursday, and a standoff that may require some intervention from team owner Tom Benson, according to one of Cole’s sources.

“Benson knows where this team was 15 years ago and he sees where it is now. He has to make the call. Mickey is not going to do it.”

Sorry fans, it still sucks that the NFL is a business, and a ruthless one. Feelings are hurt, tempers are raised, and dangerous, likely franchise-changing standoffs last into early March as the franchise tag deadline looms.

Loomis and Brees are eyeball to eyeball in New Orleans, and someone has to blink by Monday.

And the rest…

  • The Steelers continued their offseason house cleaning to both clear cap space, and purge an elderly team of its most senior members. Earlier this week it was Hines Ward, and yesterday Aaron Smith and Chris Kemoeatu had their turn. The process of slashing has left the media’s old guard yearning for a time when franchise loyalty still mattered, and players were honored for their contributions when their services were no longer needed. [Ed Bouchette]
  • The hacking isn’t done yet in Pittsburgh, and James Farrior will likely be the next to go. [Tribune Review]
  • Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley finally had a nice man-to-man chat, but they couldn’t talk about football. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
  • Dubbed the “Tebow bill,” a bill that would have allowed home schooled students to play high school sports was voted down by the Virginia State senate yesterday. [Washington Post]
  • Stevie Johnson still hopes that a long-term contract will be completed with the Bills in “a week or so.” [Inside the Bills]
  • Assuming that Peyton Manning is reasonably healthy–which is always a risky assumption–Brian Billick thinks the team that signs him will be “renting” a franchise quarterback, and they should be satisfied with three years of quality play. [Fox Sports]
  • The Jets won’t be making a big splash in free agency. [The Jets Blog]
  • The ongoing Peyton Hillis debacle in Cleveland needs to end with the Browns signing the disgruntled running back to a contract with a base salary of about $3.5 million per year, and then drafting LaMicheal James. [Dawgpound Daily]
  • Tiki Barber’s love triangle is still entertaining for those who are amused by mind-numbing tabloid fodder. [New York Post]
  • By now every armchair general manager has that one player they want their team to draft, and nothing that happens over the next two months can change their mind. But what if every player that everyone wants is gone? See, being a GM isn’t quite as fun now, is it? [Blogging the Boys]
  • If you connect a few dots between Mike Sherman, Joe Philbin, and the Packers and Dolphins, you’ll see there’s a very real chance that Ryan Tannehill winds up in Miami, and Flynn goes to Cleveland, taking the Browns out of the Robert Griffin III auction. [Hogs Haven]