Saints’ Brees worth every cent

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees throws against the San Francisco 49ers in the first...

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees throws against the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter during their NFL NFC Divisional playoff football game in San Francisco, California, January 14, 2012. (REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:16 PM ET

So let's get this straight.

Saints owner Tom Benson purchased the NBA's New Orleans Hornets franchise on Friday for $338 million. All on his own.

So he's not exactly cash-strapped, is he?

Which brings us to Benson's other hornet's nest, the New Orleans Saints.

Benson's purchase of the Hornets is the latest slap in the face to Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

Can you blame Brees if he skips off-season team workouts, which begin Monday? Evidently, that's his plan.

Brees arguably is the most beloved pro athlete in New Orleans history. Until his arrival in 2006, the locals called the longtime crap-tastic NFL franchise "The Ain'ts." The club went a not-unfamiliar 3-13 the season before he arrived.

Brees turn it all around upon signing a six-year, $60-million free-agent contract.

In his first year in the Big Easy, Brees led the Saints to a 10-6 record, a playoff victory, set a club record with 4,418 passing yards and finished second in league MVP voting.

He has only gotten better since.

In 2009, Brees led the Saints to the club's first Super Bowl, in which he out-duelled the Colts' Peyton Manning to earn game MVP honours in a 31-17 victory. He was Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year, and AP's male athlete of the year.

This past season, Brees had one of the most prolific seasons by a passer in league history, with an NFL-record 5,476 yards in leading the Saints to a 13-3 record. Three fumbles in the NFC playoffs at San Francisco likely were all that prevented the Saints from playing host to the Giants in the NFC title game.

On top of all that, Brees is viewed as nothing short of a hero for all the charitable work he has done in the city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

He could hardly have done more for that franchise, or that city -- either on the field or off.

Since late last summer, however, the Saints have been jerking Brees around on a new deal. According to reports last fall and this spring, the 33-year-old wants to be rewarded as the highest-paid quarterback in the league.

For perspective, Peyton Manning just signed with Denver for five years at $19.2 million per year, Tom Brady averages $18 million with the Pats and Michael Vick averages $16 million with the Eagles.

Presumably, Brees wants a long-term deal that will average more than $20 million per year. Yet the two sides reportedly remain $5 million per year apart in talks.

Worse, Saints GM Mickey Loomis referred to Brees as a "very good," but not great QB a couple of months ago, before backtracking.

Owner Benson said this on Friday afternoon at his Hornets news conference: "I talked to Drew Brees this morning personally. He's due in next week and we're close. You know how those things work, and it just takes a little more time, a little patience and we've got a few other things going on with the draft and players that's keeping us real busy.

"We haven't forgotten about him. We work on it every day ... I think (a contract) will be done shortly."

It had better be. Drew Brees is one of the greatest quarterbacks of this -- or any -- generation. He was worth every cent of his last contract.

Benson had enough spare cash to buy an NBA team outright, yet despite his it's-no-big-deal comments on Friday, he hasn't yet authorized -- or ordered -- Loomis to give Brees what he wants. Or something close to it.

Boggles the mind.

Because the two sides couldn't agree on a new deal before Brees would have become a free agent on March 13, the Saints placed the one-year franchise tag on him. He'll earn the average of the top five QBs in the league, reportedly more than $16 million.

Brees has not signed that tag. The two sides have until July 16 to agree on a long-term deal.

Why the Saints let this situation -- and Brees' disgruntlement -- fester for so long is beyond most observers' capacity to understand.

The Saints could hardly have bungled up the bounty mess any worse. Now this. Yes, we spot a trend too.

Never mind Who Dat? The Saints need a new motto.

Whut Da Hell Up Wit Dat? is more like it.

Comparing top quarterbacks

How does Drew Brees stack up against the league's other top quarterbacks? Not too badly over the past three seasons.

Brees has been every bit as impressive as any other quarterback in the league in that span.

Brees has completed an amazing 70% of his passes -- for 14,484 yards, 113 TDs and a 103.24 QB rating.

Only two other QBs compare: Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers completed 66% of his passes for 12,999 yards, 103 TDs and a 108.96 QB rating; and New England's Tom Brady completed 66% of his passes for 13,533 yards, 103 TDs and a 103.98 QB rating.

Peyton Manning's last three seasons with the Colts, 2008-10, don't even measure up (67%, 13,202 yds., 93 TDs, 95.39 QBR). Oh, and the Saints have won 37 regular-season games over the past three seasons, which only Brady and the Pats can match.


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