What Are Saints Options If (Key Word: IF) Brees Leaves?

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Sep 20, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterbacks Drew Brees (9) and Luke McCown (7) on the bench in the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won, 23-19. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

It’s something that to the ‘layperson’ should have been taken care of before this point got here and with little to no fuss: the Drew Brees contract extension with the New Orleans Saints.

Besides the thought of losing head coach Sean Payton for the entire year, fans of the New Orleans Saints had nothing but dread going into the 2012 offseason; as contract talks for the quarterback were in a stalemate which lead to the franchise tag being placed on him that totaled $16.371 million.

Brees would askew the OTA’s that he normally highlights as an important part of building team chemistry, as his agent Tom Condon and general manger Mickey Loomis hashed out at the time one of the biggest contracts ever in NFL history, for a signal caller.

It was done just a few weeks prior to training camp, after Brees and his people were prepared to holdout — and disaster ultimately was averted.

Tom Condon, founder of Creative Arts Agency; photo courtesy of Creative Arts Agency

That same scenario is rolling around the bend for the end of this upcoming season as well; since he is in the final year of his contract that is hitting the Saints hard in their salary cap, to the tune of $30 million.

Condon said in a recent interview that he assumes that the team is comfortable with where things stand, since talks (at least publicly reported) have gone nowhere.

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We had taken foolish comfort in reports that a deal was happening in a quick manner that would lock #9 into the franchise for at least the next five years, but that has since fizzled.

What won’t be comfortable is if the Saints want to run the road they did in 2012, and franchise tag Brees to keep him off the market — which would slap an erroneous $43 million hit (yes, FORTY-THREE MILLION) to their 2017 salary cap.

But if the Saints were to do this “sudden death” move, it would simply be a last resort and one that hopefully won’t have to happen.

As analysts and writers have acknowledged, Brees unfortunately holds all the leverage in this negotiation; which even the stubborn brick wall, “wait and see” approach that Loomis has, can’t shake.

The leverage is that there are at least 12 teams off the top of my head right now, that would break the bank for Brees if he hits the open market next year — with teams like the Cleveland Browns or Washington Redskins in the forefront.

Aug 20, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder stands on the field prior to the Redskins game against the Detroit Lions at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 21-17. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve seen Redskins owner throw money to players like it’s confetti in any attempt to rejuvenate the franchise and the recent Josh Norman signing or even one’s like the disastrous Albert Haynesworth contract should be proof of that.

Which leads me to the other part of that leverage Brees has: which is teams like that know what it’s like not to have a franchise quarterback with the ability he has.

The Saints and their fans know that too; as the team struggled to find theirs until Brees arrived in 2006 and just a short time after, helped lead them to a Super Bowl and multiple playoff appearances.

The options that would exist should the Saints and Brees part ways after this season is one that would be a nightmare for New Orleans considering.

To be clear I’m not advocating the Saints should move on from Brees whatsoever just simply that for those that haven’t thought about the alternative, it’s a pretty bleak crystal ball to look into.

Here are a few of the Saints options if Drew Brees leaves, starting with this one……

Next: Who's Next?