Salary cap is flat, performance incentives have been slashed, and the dreaded "Franchise Tag" lives on.
But hey, they have fewer OTA's, and the league promises not to ask for an 18 game schedule for a few years. So there's that.
Meanwhile, Drew Brees - himself a key member of the Union's side in the lockout, so he really has none of my pity - is feeling the bitter sting of the franchise tag.
With it in hand, GM's like Mickey Loomis can "run his **** mouth" as Bill Hickock would say famously in Deadwood, and call Brees a merely "very good" quarterback, not a "great" one.
From Jason Cole's excellent piece in Yahoo Sports...
That was the word coming out of the NFL scouting combine this past week, when Saints general manager Mickey Loomis tried to define Brees as “very good” when the quarterback was called “great,” according to three league sources. All three sources were asking Loomis why it was taking so long to sign Brees to a contract extension. Loomis’ answer spoke volumes.
Whatever, tough guy.
Brees has been lighting the league on fire the last 6 seasons on the Bayou. His WORST completion % and WORST TD total have been 64% and 28, which was back in year one under Coach Sean Peyton.
Since then, his numbers look like XBox numbers when you are playing your 6 year old nephew on the "easy" setting.
So this is the "reward" a player of unquestioned leadership, loyalty, and community service gets by the "League Machine" when it comes time for a cranky old car dealer to find his wallet?
Nice. What's that saying about "no good deed...?"
Pro Football Talk has an excellent summary of just how the Saints are squeezing Brees, and using his pristine image against him when it comes to bottom line dollars they are willing to pay....
The Saints can get away with playing hardball because they fundamentally believe Brees won’t say or do anything that will paint him as anything less than an all-around good guy. A guy who puts others before himself. A guy who organized workouts during the lockout in order to ensure that the team will be ready for the 2011 season.
Brees has crafted an image that now prevents him from taking the kind of action necessary to get the team’s attention. He can’t hold out. He can’t demand a trade. He can’t try to make the case to the media that he deserves at least one-sixth of the entire salary cap allotment per year.Sad, but true. Brees deserves better, but like Clint Eastwood once said: "Deserve's got nothing to do with it."
Brees has leverage. But the Saints are guessing that Brees won’t use it. And the Saints probably are guessing right.
And much like "Wild Bill" Hickock had to endure Jack McCall running his **** mouth at him just to play some cards, Brees will have to endure Mickey Loomis doing the same.
"I ain't gonna get in no gunfight with you Hickock."
"But you WILL run your **** mouth at me...... and I will take it... to play poker."