City Sports Report

Drew Brees and his contract helped doom New Orleans

Drew Brees has seen his team change around him as time has gone on (photo courtesy of

The New Orleans Saints have made some perplexing moves this offseason. They traded away their best receiving threat, tight end Jimmy Graham, to Seattle for veteran center Max Unger. They traded away offensive lineman Ben Grubbs to Kansas City for a draft pick. And they traded away explosive wide receiver Kenny Stills to Miami and received linebacker Dannell Ellerbe in return. It’s no secret that New Orleans has salary cap issues. They re-signed running back Mark Ingram and brought in running back CJ Spiller to be the change-of-pace back, but they had to restructure Ellerbe’s contract to even afford him and they had to let go of some of their complementary players to fit in a guy like CJ Spiller, who may remind Saints fans of Reggie Bush. And even with some of the maneuvering, the Saints still have cap issues. The issue of the cap started only a few years ago for the Saints, as they set themselves up for their own cap doom.

In 2012, Drew Brees was looking for a new deal and he was willing to hold out for it. The posturing went on for a while, but the New Orleans Saints finally caved and paid Brees. The veteran quarterback signed a five-year, $100 million contract that had $40 million in guaranteed money. On the surface, many would think that is a bargain price for the deals out there quarterbacks are getting. But when you look a little deeper, this contract was the beginning of the end for the New Orleans Saints. If you look at the cap hit at the beginning of the deal Brees received, the hit was only $10 million. That allowed the team to be able to make some moves around Brees at that time. But heading into this season, Brees and his contract are crippling the team. He is scheduled to make almost $27 million this season and that is a pretty sizeable cap hit for that team. To put into perspective his salary cap hit on this team, Brees is taking up almost 19% of the cap in New Orleans. When you have a team of 53 players, it becomes hard to doing things with that much of your cap tied into one player. And with the Saints not doing so well in drafting players the last few years, it seems as if the contract they gave Brees has been a hindrance more than a help. Ultimately, the Saints may want to move Drew Brees if they can.

The Saints are not the only team that has had to make this decision and they will not be the last one to do so either. But the Saints also could have tried to rectify the decision as well. It seems as if teams are afraid to approach their quarterbacks for restructuring of deals. They approach other players for them all the time. Some accept them while others decide they don’t want to. The onus is on the player to make the decision as to what they want to do next. But it seems as if the guy that gets paid the most ends up throwing the salary cap the most out of whack in most instances. Another example of the salary cap being thrown outta whack is the Dallas Cowboys. Tony Romo has not even won a Super Bowl or been a regular in the playoffs, yet he is scheduled to be an even bigger cap hit than Drew Brees this year at almost $28 million. Yet this offseason, guys like offensive tackle Tyron Smith and cornerback Brandon Carr are the ones that will be taking paycuts ahead of asking Romo. And as a result of them not approaching him, the Cowboys have no cap space to retain their players or add as many pieces as they would like to. In the end, the big deal can be nice-looking to fans and to players, but it can guarantee no wins in a lot of instances. And for those that want to point out a quarterback like Colin Kaepernick for his contract, he actually only is a cap hit of $15 million for the 49ers. The way his deal is structured allows for more money to be spread around and allowed the team to add more pieces to help him offensively like Reggie Bush and Torrey Smith. And it also helps frees up money down the line to make moves to add to the team or retain players like Aldon Smith should they become free agents.

Ultimately, the big deal and how it is structured can be great for players and their agents, but it also has to make sense for the team. As a result of the deal the Saints and Cowboys made, the team is not able to keep players they like and they have to hope for players to take less to want to play with them. Dallas was able to overcome that last season, but this season they may not to be able to. The Saints look like they are changing their dynamic offensively to put more focus on the ground game with their changes, but they are also doing most of them out of necessity. The team cannot change much due to the Brees contract. Keeping a Super Bowl hero in town has its good things. It makes the fans happy and keeps a familiar face around. But on the flip side, if the deal is not great for both sides, you may as well say you are handcuffing your organization. And this is the reality of the New Orleans Saints.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .


  1. Dori Longino

    March 18, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Anytime I read news that implies what I’m already feeling, that the Saints are no threat this upcoming season it makes my Buc’s heart jump for joy!

    • Mike Patton

      March 18, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      The rest of the NFC South will help them stay relevant. The NFC South has a way of doing that.

  2. Ben

    March 18, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Anyone who cannot see that EVERY move the Saints have made this offseason is beneficial to the success of the organization either A) doesn’t know crap about football, or B) just loves to hate on a team that has had some success over the last decade. I mean literally, EVERY MOVE has improved the team on what the vision Sean Payton has. He wanted to get back to the hard working players like we had when he reshaped this team in 2006. The Saints will win the NFC South and then this half ass website will be writing how good we are. Clowns

    • Mike Patton

      March 18, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      No one is hating on your team and I am very knowledgeable of football. This team has cap issues that got no better with the trades they made. It lessened the talent on the team to work with. And it also left them without replacements in some areas. Thanks for checking us out and why so angry Ben?

    • Derrel Johnson

      March 19, 2015 at 4:48 am

      Thanks for the compliment on the website. We appreciate the feedback!

  3. Scottie O

    March 18, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    I like all the moves the Saints made in the this free agency period. Grubbs was seriously overpaid for the level of performance he brought to the team, Center was a huge issue for the OL, as Goodwin was a horrible pickup, and Lelito is much better at the Guard position. I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see Lelito man Grubbs spot at the beginning of the season. The Graham deal was a catastrophe. He played injured, yes, but even when WIDE OPEN, he didn’t show any concentration, and grew alligator arms over the first couple of seasons. His production dropped off dramatically, mostly because he dropped so many passes. It absolutely hated watching Brees try to fit the ball into Graham, it was like the scenario where the Saints offense suffered as a whole when Reggie Bush was on the team. We were WAY too predictable last year, and it showed. As for Stills, yes, he’s an outstanding receiver, made even better because he has a future HOF QB throwing it to him. There were grumblings though, that he just wasn’t a hard worker, and wasn’t among Brees favorites, because of it.

    All in all, I’m really impressed with the aggressiveness that the Saints have displayed in making changes. It remains to be seen whether or not the changes work, but…..either way, it’ll be fun to watch.

  4. Matthew Toups

    March 18, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Mike Patton is a moron. Is Drew’s contract to high, Yes! Does it make since to get rid of the guy this year and take such a huge cap hit, No! It is far wiser to release or trade him next year when his cap hit isn’t so high, and draft a QB this year that can spend a year learning from him. As far as Graham, and Stills. You know why they where so good…..Drew Brees. How many Saints receivers left Airline Highway and made a big name for themselves after no more Brees, that’s right none. In fact most of them got cut after the first year, and one even came back. All our moves this year have played a huge role in the future success of our team. And you’ll be writing about how good we are this year by week 3.

    • Mike Patton

      March 18, 2015 at 9:54 pm

      I appreciate you callin me a moron Matthew. I really do. Let’s me know I drew some emotion when you read mt article. Also I never said they should just get rid of him. It is an option, but the Saints front office would have been smarter to structure the deal where both the organization and Brees could win.

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