“Oh When the Saints … Go Marching in … the Wrong Direction…”
The lyrics to the song have been altered this offseason in regard to the New Orleans Saints. They couldn’t leave bad enough alone as the target of the Bountygate investigation that destroyed the career of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and landed both coach Sean Payton and linebacker Jonathan Vilma on the sideline with one-year suspensions.
Now Drew Brees is threatening to sit out the entire preseason – starting with OTAs that begin on Tuesday – unless he comes to an agreement with the team on a long-term contract. The All-Pro quarterback has been saddled with the franchise tag, which has seemingly given the Saints little motivation to get a deal done quickly.
Many have expressed wonderment that the sides have gone this long without finishing the job or even making significant progress. There seems to be little threat that Brees will not play the regular season, but the offense will be severely hampered if he makes himself unavailable through training camp and the exhibition games. The only player that scenario would help is backup quarterback Chase Daniel, who is to Drew Brees like a White Castle hamburger is to filet mignon.
Saints general manager Mickey Looimis continues to emphasize his desire to sign Brees, stating that any contract must be beneficial to both sides. But ESPN analyst and former NFL Pro Bowl receiver Cris Carter is among those who remain perplexed about the situation. He wonders if Brees has fallen into disfavor with the Saints.
“Why wouldn’t he be signed?” Carter asked on a SportsCenter interview. “Why would they put him at risk of going out there during the mini-camp and not having the security that other marquis quarterbacks in the league have? No quarterback that has the resume that Drew Brees has or anything close to it does not have the security that Drew Brees should have at this point of his career.”
Brees has been as prolific as any quarterback in the NFL. He led the league three times in both yards and touchdown passes. And, frighteningly enough for opposing defenders, he’s getting better. He recorded career-bests in completion percentage (71.2), passing yards (5,476) and touchdowns (46) last season.
Perhaps even more impressive is that Brees has raised the level of performance of only a moderately talented receiving corps. His deadly accuracy results in receivers catching passes in stride for extra yards. And no quarterback in the NFL is clearly better tossing the deep ball.
Contract negotiations are complicated. Even those involved in this one don’t seem to know how to get a deal done for Brees. But one thing is certain: without Brees, the Saints will be marching in … the wrong direction.