New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. (American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 06, 2013 6:09 PM
A year ago, Drew Brees wanted to be paid.
Now he is willing to pay back the Saints.
It is a trend sweeping the NFL. Quarterbacks from throughout the land are sacking themselves of smack.
The object is to become financially friendly to the salary cap.
The hope is that the team can use the extra cash and grab a few free-agent signees.
Tom Brady did it last week, so did Ben Roethlisberger.
Combined, those two have won a total of five Super Bowls and been to eight.
They know what only years in the league can teach: a quarterback’s legacy is not tied to the number of zeroes in his check but rather the number of rings on his fingers.
Brees seems to have learned this, as well. He’s already been passed by Joe Flacco when it comes to contract size, so why not give some back?
It has been reported that just months after signing his mega-deal, the Saints QB is willing to have it reworked, tweaked if you prefer.
Granted, this is just a paper move and it is unlikely Brady or Roethlisberger will lose even a dime in the deals, but it still looks good and likely goes a long way in the locker rooms they lead.
Both the Brady and Roethlisberger exchanges put more money into bonus packages, and move cash from next year’s salary to further down the road.
Teams are banking on the fact a new television contract for the league will mean an even higher salary cap in the future. Thus, the percentage the quarterbacks will take up would be less down the road.
Makes financial sense, but then again so did those long-term mortgages of the past that started with a low amount for the first five years only to escalate. That didn’t work out so well for a lot of homeowners.
Still, Brees showing it is not all about the money makes a lot of sense. He got his last year and the Saints got eight wins. The deal did not prove to make New Orleans a winner.
Sure, there were a lot of other factors, but first and foremost was the defense didn’t have enough talent. If the Saints can use some of what Brees is willing to give back and get some help on the other side of the football, then this could work.
In the short term.
Both Dallas and San Francisco have tried this in the past and it finally caught up with them. You can’t keep putting off what you owe.
It doesn’t work in your household budget and it doesn’t work in the NFL over the long haul.
However, in the case of the Saints, where the window of winning a second Super Bowl is closing with each candle Brees adds on his birthday cake, this might just work.
Even now the Saints are not built for the long haul. They have the look of a team still in win-now mode.
For them, it’s nice to win a division or a playoff game, but once you have set the standard at Super Bowl championships or bust, nice doesn’t cut it.
That means the Saints must do what it takes while Brees still has the ability to do what he does.
A quarterback’s shelf life is one play away from being over so winning now and worrying about paying the bills later should be the way New Orleans owner Tom Benson and the rest of the team’s front office is thinking.
It would be silly for them to have wasted all this time to keep Brees happy and not make the move to keep the fans interested for at least as long as Drew is still here.
The fact that Brees is willing to put his money where his mouth is might make him just one of the boys when it comes to quarterbacks doing the same, but it will help make him one of the boys when the Saints hit the practice field.
That might mean more than a few dollars in the pocket some Sundays.
• • •
Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org