As first reported by FOXSports.com NFL insider Jay Glazer, the Saints used their franchise tag Saturday afternoon on quarterback Drew Brees.
The move means that one of the league’s top passers will remain in New Orleans for at least the 2012 NFL season. Profootballtalk.com reported that Brees was given the “exclusive” franchise tender, rendering him unable to negotiate with other teams. In exchange, Brees will make several million more dollars than the “non-exclusive” tag that carries a $14.4 million base salary.
Despite more than a year’s worth of contract talks, New Orleans and Brees were unable to reach agreement on a new deal before the NFL’s 4 p.m. ET Monday deadline to utilize the franchise designation.
By tagging Brees, the Saints are now unable to franchise another top offensive player set to become an unrestricted free agent. Left guard Carl Nicks and wide receivers Marques Colston and Robert Meachem are now likely to hit the market and attract the kind of offers that would lead to their Saints’ departure.
As the article mentions, by using the tag on Brees, it means the Saints can't use it on Marques Colston or Carl Nicks, so it will be much tougher to retain both of those players. Meachem is an interesting player to watch. He showed flashes of potential in New Orleans and could thrive in a pass-happy offense if he's given more snaps and targets.