Saints mailbag: What do you think happens with Drew Brees?

This is the scenario that no one wants to think about right now.

I think if this were to happen, Drew Brees would play out the season, and the Saints would again try to reach a new agreement before he hit the open market as a free agent next March.

It’s very doubtful he would be tagged since the cost would be more than $40 million. And if Brees is sitting there in January or February without a new deal, it could be hard for him not to test the market to see what he’s worth to other teams.

As for what’s important over the next few weeks, if this thing lingers for much longer, New Orleans will have to start exploring other ways to open up some cap space to finalize the signings of linebacker Craig Robertson and safety Jamarca Sanford. It also needs some cash to sign draft picks.

Another $1.6 million will be coming back if tight end Josh Hill goes to Chicago, and Brandon Browner’s release will add another $2.5 million on June 1. That helps but it’s still not enough money. The Saints could look to do a simple restructure with safety Jairus Byrd, explore what it would take to extend someone like center Max Unger and maybe even see if there’s something to be done with punter Thomas Morstead to lower his number this season.

I get the feeling the Saints are willing to let Brees play out this season at his current cap number if there isn’t a resolution to be reached. While Brees and his agent, Tom Condon, have most of the leverage in these negotiations, I don’t think New Orleans is going to easily agree to a deal just to make a deal.

All of the posturings could change as this situation continues to play out. Perhaps the ice is already melting, and there will be some flex from both sides in the near future. All parties involved have said they’d like to see something gets done sooner than later.

And it’s good news that coach Sean Payton said negotiations are active and ongoing.  But it’s important the Saints make sure what looks good today will still look good tomorrow.

Brees could be 41 or 42 at the end of this extension. New Orleans needs to structure the deal so that there are ways to get out if he suddenly hits a steep decline. There’s no guarantee he will rapidly decline, and if anyone can keep the effects of time at bay, it’s him. But it’s smart business to protect yourself from all potential outcomes.

It’s still important to note that Brees gives the Saints their best shot at winning. There are no guarantees with Garrett Grayson at this point. If Brees gets away, it’s impossible to know when the next quarterback is going to show up.

Just look at the Cleveland Browns. They’ve used 16 starting quarterbacks since 2006 and just signed Robert Griffin. That’s no way to live and it could happen to any team. Bad things often happen when you have to find a quarterback.

The ideal scenario here would be for both teams to find a happy medium that everyone can live with. We’ll see if that can happen.