Reports are flying around the NFL and among fans that the Saints and their star QB Drew Brees are far apart on reaching a deal for a new contract before Brees could hit the free-agency market. There is no possible way that the Saints to not keep Drew Brees for the short term and eventually the long haul, but currently they are faced with a daunting proposition: they might HAVE to place the franchise tag on Brees.
You might ask, how does him not signing and the Saints placing ‘the tag’ on Brees help Atlanta? The answer is the salary cap. New Orleans is currently projected at $12 million under the 2012 salary cap. If the franchise tag is placed on Brees, that will cost $14 million at the QB position. That would put them over the cap limit, and they would have to release players to make space just to keep their current QB and stay under the limit.
That puts the Saints in a precarious position. If they are forced to tag him, they will be forced to choose who to re-sign in free agency between G Carl Nicks and WR Marques Colston, if they can even sign one of them. Carl Nicks will demand (and deserves) top of the line money, and Colston has already stated that he does not intend to give the Saints a ‘hometown discount’. At this crisis stage, New Orleans would be lucky to get either of those two players back.
Now to how this can benefit Atlanta. We have significantly more cap space than the Saints, and could potentially sign Nicks to fill a pressing need. Even if we were not able to sign him, another team would be able to, and that would benefit the Falcons as getting to Brees just became that much easier. The same thing is true of Colston; not having to cover an elite receiver like him would help our secondary to focus less on one particular receiver.
All of this depends on Brees being assigned the Franchise Tag. Even if he is not, and a deal is worked out, the Saints will almost certainly not be able to re-sign BOTH Nicks and Colston. As Falcon fans, we should keep our fingers crossed they have to place the tag on him. It would be a disaster for the Saints, and a minor victory for the Falcons.