(AP Photo) 2014 is not the time for Drew Brees to restructure his contract.
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Oh the irony.
During the 2012 offseason, I couldn't go a day without someone asking me why the Saints haven't ponied up to pay Brees a long-term contract. After all, he was the best player to ever play for the franchise, shattered passing records and deserved the world. What were the Saints doing?
Here we are in 2014, just two offseasons later, and many of those same people are wondering why Brees hasn't restructured his contract to help the team with their team's salary cap constraints.
That's life in the NFL. And that's the mindset of fan base whose team is an estimated $12-15 million over in salary cap and still have a big-time player named Jimmy Graham to sign.
The question is in an offseason certain to be full of cost-cutting, should Brees restructure his contract to give the Saints some much-needed cap relief?
The answer is no….at least not now.
Let me explain.
Yes, restructuring Brees now would clear up cap space for this season. But it also would handcuff them even more past 2014.
Brees cap hits for 2014, 2015 and 2016 are: $18.4 million, $26.4 million and $27.4 million, respectively.
Converting a portion of his 2014 base salary into guaranteed money and spreading it out through 2016 would only inflate those numbers for 2015-2016, which means restructuring now would essentially force them to restructure again in 2015.
The more realistic scenario for Brees and the Saints is to wait until next offseason in 2015 and try to restructure in the form of an extension.
With the surge in cap hit (shown above), the deal was likely configured to re-visit the contract that year anyway.
Even if the salary cap increases significantly that year, it's unlikely the Saints would want to have that much tied into one player.
In 2015, they would only have two years left on the deal. They can tack on one or more years, convert portions of his '15 & '16 base salaries into guarantees and spread more of the guaranteed money over the added years on the extension that time to lower the cap hit.
For it to work, Brees would then have to agree to a lower base salary on the year(s) of the extension. But in return he would receive more guaranteed dollars on the back end by reducing his base salary in 2015 and 2016. The Saints could sweeten the deal by guaranteeing those future base salaries as well.
While not exactly the same thing, that's the premise Tom Brady and the Patriots used on his extension last year. He accepted a below-market base salary on his extension but got more guaranteed money in return. Those seasons he'll be 38, 39 and 40 years old respectively.
Brees would be 36 when negotiating the extension and would be 38 the year the extension would begin.
Of course there's always a chance Brees' skills would diminish or that he wouldn't be open to lowering his base salary on any extension which would change the game altogether. But both scenarios are bridges that don't need to be crossed in 2014.
The only way I could see the Saints doing this offseason is if they are simply out of options and are afraid to part ways with too many players to get under the cap. That scenario is possible but probably unlikely.
The Saints still have a lot of work to do in terms of getting under the salary cap. But, for now, they would be wise to leave Brees' contract alone.
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