Why does Drew Brees remain unsigned?


Why does Drew Brees remain unsigned?

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints still must close a significant gap in guaranteed money if they are to agree on a five-year contract worth about 100 million by Monday's looming deadline for a long-term deal, said a person familiar with the negotiations. The sides were more than 10 million apart in the guaranteed portion of the contract on Wednesday, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because talks are ongoing. The stakes are high for both sides and the negotiations have lasted for months, including long gaps in communication between the two camps. Brees, who is 33 and entering his 12th season, has never before had the chance to negotiate a contract on par with the elite quarterbacks of the game. The Saints, meanwhile, risk alienating the best quarterback in franchise history, not to mention their fan base, by failing to make an offer to his satisfaction by Monday -- the deadline for players with the franchise tag to sign long-term deals. Several months ago, Brees first raised the possibility that he would not report to the opening of training camp if all that was on the table at that time was the one-year franchise tag of about 16.3 million. People familiar with the quarterback's plans say that remains the case. Brees has said he does not want to play under a one-year contract with no long-term security in the coming seasons. He did it once before, with costly consequences, when he played under the franchise tag for San Diego in 2005 and wound up with a career-threatening injury to his throwing shoulder. That injury led him to accept a six-year, 60 million deal with New Orleans in 2006, which left him playing for well below market value during the past few seasons, even as he was setting club and league records. Brees had hoped that an extension would be done before 2011, but when it was not, he decided against holding out and played without the security of a long-term contract. He remained healthy the entire season and passed for an NFL single-season record 5,476 yards. Brees considered that an act of faith in the Saints, and now he is expecting that faith be returned in the form of a contract that not only would give him the highest average annual salary in the game, but also guarantee a significant portion of his salary. In the NFL, players can be cut before their contracts expire, and while signing and subsequent year option bonuses are guaranteed, base salaries are not. General manager Mickey Loomis has said he understands that Brees' contract is the most important deal on which he has worked in his front office career. However, he has stressed that such a deal, with the potential to affect the team's ability to sign other players, must be entered into with caution. Both sides have offered proposals that would give the Saints more flexibility under the NFL's salary cap in the next three years than New Orleans would have if Brees played for the franchise tag. In those proposals, a relatively low base salary number in the early years would be offset by guaranteed signing and option bonuses that are pro-rated, for salary cap purposes, over the life of the contract. If the Saints were to use their franchise tag on Brees again in 2013, they would have to pay him about 23.5 million, which represents a significantly higher salary cap figure than what either side's five-year proposal calls for in that season. Such a contract structure would increase the salary cap burden of Brees' deal significantly in the final years, but the salary cap likely will be higher by then. The current salary cap is about 120 million, but could rise substantially under a new NFL TV deal that will begin in 2014. Under the league's current labor agreement, players are supposed to receive about 55 percent of TV revenues. If the two sides can narrow their differences on the guarantees, the remaining portions of the contract should be easier to figure out. Both sides are working from a framework of five years. The difference in the annual average pay is about 1.25 million, with the Saints' last offer at about 19.25 million and Brees' last proposal at about 20.5 million. However, it is not yet clear how much Brees is willing to come down from his annual figure, which some in his camp have argued is low, based on past trends. Peyton Manning recently signed a five-year, 96 million deal, which averages 19.2 million. Manning is three years older than Brees and did not play last season because of neck surgery. Meanwhile, teams have had a history of offering new contracts to elite players which represent annual multimillion dollar increases over the previous top contract for a player at the same position. Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson's last contract averages 16.2 million a year, which exceeds the previous benchmark deal of Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald by more than 1 million per year. Even major contracts can be negotiated quickly under deadline pressure, and the types of differences the Saints and Brees have now can be resolved in less than a day, so there remains plenty of time to work out a deal. However, if the deadline passes without a long-term contract, Brees could still hold out for a one-year contract worth more than the current franchise tag. Brees also could hold out until the Saints put it in writing that they will not use the franchise tag on him again next season, allowing him to test the open market.

Rewind: 'Beautiful' night for Kings, Sacramento despite loss to Spurs

Rewind: 'Beautiful' night for Kings, Sacramento despite loss to Spurs

SACRAMENTO -- Basketball was supposed to take a back seat Thursday night at the Golden 1 Center. After countless failed attempts to build a new arena in Sacramento, the Kings were almost allowed to leave twice. But a new building comes another 30-plus year lease, cementing NBA hoops in the capital of California until at least the midway point of the century.

The evening was supposed to be a celebration of an accomplishment that many believed would never happen. And then a basketball game broke out.

No one expected the Kings to compete with the San Antonio Spurs. Gregg Popovich’s club won 67 games last season and were fresh off a smackdown of the Golden State Warriors in the season opener on Tuesday.

But this isn’t the 2015-16 Sacramento Kings that would routinely yield 110 points to their opponents. This is Dave Joerger’s club and they are grinders.

The end result was a loss, but one that you can live with. 102-94 doesn’t tell the whole story. For much of the night, the Kings were the best team on the floor.

“I consider this a good loss,” DeMarcus Cousins said. “I’m ready for the next one.”

There are moral victories when you are two games into an 82 game schedule and you go toe-to-toe with one of the best in the league. The mood in past seasons would have been somber in the Kings locker room, but that is not what it felt like on Thursday evening.

“The scary apart about it is we’ve still got so much more room to improve,” Cousins said. “In the past, you usually walk in here and guys are sulking and pissed off. (Tonight) it’s like okay, let’s get onto the next one. We know we made some mistakes. We know we broke down, but we’re on the right path right now.”

That path is built on a defensive identity and the Kings are building chemistry at a shocking rate. With five new rotational players and three new starters, Sacramento’s roster is still learning how to play together.

“As a group, we were pretty good defensively, we communicate with each other, so we’re always going to have a chance every night,” veteran shooting guard Arron Afflalo said.

When you play the Spurs, your margin for error is almost nill. The game turned on a turnover here and a mistake there and that’s something you can’t have when you’re playing a group that has been together for years in the same system.

“Defensively, I think we took a step in the right direction,” Rudy Gay said. “They’re a great team, I think we played great defense. Had a couple of letdowns, but it’s a basketball game. They’re a veteran team playing together. They have a system and they stuck to their system.”

It will go down as the first loss in the history of the Golden 1 Center, but the Kings are showing signs that they might be better than expected.

As for the opening of the building, it went off without a hitch. Both David Stern and Adam Silver were in attendance to see the event. As was Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett, former Sacramento Kings All-Star Chris Webber, mayor Kevin Johnson and a bevy of local celebrities.

It was an emotional night all around, even for Cousins who has spent the first six-plus seasons of his career in a Kings uniform.

“It was beautiful, man,” the Kings’ big man said from his locker stall. “As much as this city has been through, as much as they fought, they were more than deserving of this night. I wish we could have sealed the deal with a win, but we got 80 more so we can make it up later.”

The Kings face a young and athletic Minnesota Timberwolves team on Saturday that has given them fits in the past. It’s a new challenge that this team looks better prepared to face this season.

Rewind: Power play paces Sharks in strange night at the Tank

Rewind: Power play paces Sharks in strange night at the Tank

SAN JOSE – First, there was a delay in the Sharks-Blue Jackets game when the lights suddenly went out late in the second period. Another interruption occurred in the third, when the referees decided to spend more time on an offside challenge that overturned a Brenden Dillon goal than the Warren Commission did on the Zapruder film.

In a few months, those occurrences may end up being more notable to many in the SAP Center crowd than the actual game result, a 3-1 Sharks win on Thursday night. Inside the home dressing room, though, it was a pair of goals by the second power play unit and a strong performance by goalie Martin Jones that will be how they remember this one.

Joonas Donskoi’s first period goal with Markus Nutivaara in the box staked the Sharks a 1-0 lead, while Tomas Hertl’s marker in the third period with Jack Johnson serving a tripping minor increased it to 2-0. Hertl added a late empty netter to seal it, after Scott Hartnell brought the Blue Jackets to within one with less then three minutes to go.

It was the second straight game the Sharks didn’t get an even strength goal in regulation (other than the empty-netter), yet found a way. They beat Anaheim in three-on-three overtime on Tuesday, 2-1.

“Right now the five-on-five goals are hard to come by,” Pete DeBoer said. “We're creating chances, but the power play won us the game tonight." 

Hertl said: “Exciting night for us, the second [power play unit], because we scored two goals.”

The newest addition to that unit, defenseman David Schlemko, assisted on each of the first two goals. He spotted Donskoi wide open in the circle on the first, and got a secondary helper on Hertl’s first goal.

Although they were his first two points of the season, Schlemko is quickly proving to be the second-most talented offensive defenseman on the team. He’s managed 20 shots on goal through eight games – exactly half of Burns’ 40, but nearly double Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s 11.

“It's nice to get [the points] of the way,” he said. “I feel like I've been getting lots of pucks to the net, so it's nice to see a couple go in finally."

Donskoi figured Schlemko would spot him all alone standing on the faceoff dot.

“He's pretty good with the puck, so I think he just saw me,” Donskoi said. “It's good to have a guy like that."

It’s also good to have a guy like Jones, who made some key saves early on the penalty kill and preserved the lead while Sergei Bobrovsky was making some potentially game-changing stops on the other end. Jones’ 24 saves lowered his goals-against average to 2.32, and upped his save percentage to .908.

“We had quite a few grade-A chances, [Bobrovsky] kept them in it pretty good,” said Joel Ward, who was stopped on an early second period breakaway. “Obviously Jonesy has been there for us since day one. It’s good that he’s feeling the groove, we’ve just got to put some pucks in.”

Neither Jones nor his teammates let the odd circumstances, including Dillon’s apparent goal that was nullified after a seven-minute delay in the third period of a 1-0 game, get to them. 

“There was a couple things there out of our control, but I thought considering that, we stuck with it and found a way,” DeBoer said.

Ward said: “We’ve got a good group and a mature group, and we know how to handle situations.”

The Sharks are also gaining momentum at home with their third win in as many tries, even if their own building doesn’t want to cooperate all the time with pesky details like keeping the ice surface brightened.

“With [the lights going off] and the disallowed goal it felt like a triple overtime type of game,” Ward said. “Haven’t seen that before, but hopefully since we won, maybe it happens again and we can capitalize.”

Schlemko wasn’t here last season, but he heard all about the team’s struggles at SAP Center when it was the only playoff team that didn’t win at least half of its home games (18-20-3).

“I think we wanted to clean up the home record and have teams know it's going to be a tough night coming in here,” he said. “It's been a pretty good start."