The Saints are continuing negotiations on a long-term deal with Drew Brees.
As of Thursday, the sides remain roughly $5 million a year apart on a new contract. The Saints are making moves to free up salary-cap money, such as a guaranteed deal for defensive end Will Smith that should free at least $5 million. That move will put the Saints at roughly $19 million under the salary cap, assuming the cap remains close to $120 million.
Regardless, if a deal with Brees isn’t done by Monday, the team will have to use the franchise tag on him. The ripple effect of that is significant because the Saints also have wide receiver Marques Colston and guard Carl Nicks coming up as free agents. If the Saints are forced to franchise Brees, there is a strong chance they will lose both Colston and Nicks, each of whom are looking for about $9 million per year.
If that happens, the Saints are in trouble.
If the Saints sign Brees, they will keep at least two of those three players. There’s a decent chance the team could retain all three by using the franchise tag as leverage against either Colston or Nicks, signing one of them and then slapping the tag on the other.