2012 NFL Free Agency: 5 Scenarios in Which Drew Brees Is Not a New Orleans Saint
This offseason, Saints fans may just find out, as his current contract with New Orleans is now complete.
Considering that Brees' previous deal had him as only the 15th highest paid man under center last season, his price tag is about to sky rocket. Men who are as elite as Brees and capable of leading offenses as well as he does do not barely get paid in the top 50 percent of the league.
This summer could be very interesting for the Saints and how they go about the chess game that will surely be re-signing Brees.
It seems incredibly likely the Saints will do whatever it takes to retain their best player, but what would have to happen to break up the happy marriage?
Here are five scenarios that may, though highly unlikely, end Brees' time in the Big Easy.
His Price Is Too High
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Brees made just over $7.3 million last season with the Saints. While that may sound like a ridiculous amount of money, it's far less than players in the league whose skills aren't close to that of Brees.
The highest paid signal-caller in the league last season was Peyton Manning with $23 million. Ranking right behind him were Michael Vick ($20 million), Mark Sanchez ($14.75 million), Ben Roethlisberger ($14.75 million), Carson Palmer ($14 million), Tom Brady ($13 million), Matthew Stafford ($12 million), Matt Ryan ($11.25 million), Philip Rivers ($11.2 million), Tony Romo ($11 million), Eli Manning ($10 million), Jay Cutler ($9 million), Aaron Rodgers ($8.25 million) and then finally Brees.
Brees is likely going to be a Saint for the rest of his career. At the age of 33, he may have three or four years left max.
In order to become the top paid or second-highest paid quarterback on this list, as he should be, Brees is looking to make $20 million a year. A four-year deal may eclipse $90 million. That's a serious investment.
What if the Saints consider the price too stiff and can't commit financially to Brees like he should be? Would he take a hometown discount?
Another Team Offers Him a Giant Free-Agent Deal
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With Brees being a free agent, there's no bargaining chips at the table for the Saints to deal him away and receive an infinite amount of first-round draft picks in return. All three of the aforementioned ball clubs would have to strike up a deal through free agency themselves.
Obviously, in order for this to happen, the Saints would have to spend more than one day talking numbers with Brees. If they're smart, they come hitting heavy on day one so that no other teams can swoop in and even submit an offer.
The Saints Fix Other Needs
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Should New Orleans elect to pass on Drew Brees, imagine how much spare money they would have to re-sign other free agents and target other big names.
New Orleans has a pair of receivers up for new paper in 2012 in Marques Colston and Robert Meachem. The Saints also need to figure out a new deal with one of the best guards on the market, Carl Nicks.
What about if the Saints went out and made a play for another top-caliber free agent like a Vincent Jackson or a DeSean Jackson? Jermichael Finley would look awfully nice across from Jimmy Graham on the other side of the offensive line.
Defensively, Will Smith and Robert Mathis would make one hell of a one-two punch on the defensive line for Steve Spagnuolo's new defense. Mario Williams of the Texans could find a new home with the Saints and make an immediate impact at linebacker.
There are plenty of "what if?" scenarios we could entertain with free agency, and any of them could be possible if the Saints part ways with Brees.
Another Team Trades for Him
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Imagine this scenario like the "sign and trade" concept in the NBA.
The Saints could still re-sign Brees on their own, but what if a team is so determined to have him that they throw everything AND the kitchen sink at the New Orleans with a trade shortly after?
Of the previous three scenarios, this one is the most difficult to believe. But it is possible.
One team specifically has a whole bunch of first-round draft picks to offer as trade bait. The Cleveland Browns made off with a fortune when they traded down with the Atlanta Falcons in last year's draft because of the Falcons' love for Julio Jones.
If the Browns were to offer two first-round picks this season, a first-round pick next season, and a handful of additional selections, the Saints would have to consider the offer because of the good it would do for the entire franchise.
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Plenty of weird happenings occur during the offseason. People have changes of heart about playing the sport they love when it starts to become a wear and tear on their bodies.
We heard earlier this week by the credible Rob Lowe (yes, that guy from West Wing) about the apparent plans for Colts great Peyton Manning to retire this offseason from the NFL. Whether that will happen or not remains to be seen.
Crazier things have happened. Remember these are athletes and not super humans. Humans get in accidents and suffer injuries to their bodies.
And if all else fails, follow Rob Lowe when Brees walks into the Saints front office on March 13th to talk free agency. Perhaps his sources will have the inside track down there as well.
Brett Lyons is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials.
Follow Brett Lyons on Twitter @BrettLyons670.