Drew Brees might soon bring sorely needed positive publicity to the Saints, hinting on ESPN Radio on Tuesday that only minute details are standing between the franchise quarterback and a long-term contract to stay in New Orleans.
"Why do contract negotiations take this long anyway," Brees said. "It should be a much more simple process than it is. Certainly, it comes down to certain provisions of the contract. There are little things here and there that take time to resolve."
Brees told ESPN's Outside the Lines that holding out for an entire season is not an option.
"I would never sit out a football season," Brees said on Outside the Lines. "I love this game too much, I love my team too much, but obviously there's a lot that can happen between now and then, so let's just hope we can get a long-term deal done."
Brees was unhappy with being given the Saints' franchise tag worth about $16.3 million, and the sides have until July 16 to reach a long-term agreement. The exclusive franchise tag prevents him from talking with other clubs, but Brees is holding out for a multiyear contract.
There is ammunition aplenty in negotiations. His agent, Tom Condon, has represented Peyton Manning in two separate long-term deals in a nine-month span. Both deals exceeded $90 million in total value; Manning was released by the Colts in February and signed with Denver as a free agent.
Brees has sought a contract for $23 million per year, while the Saints are closer to $18 million.
The Saints will take an approximate $14.4 million salary cap hit if he plays under the franchise marker.
Brees hasn't participated in training activities or minicamp with the Saints while his contract situation is resolved. He told ESPN Radio that he's not ready to sweat the possibilities of missing training camp time or beyond.
"That's about a month and a half away," Brees said, "so a lot of time between then and now. I'm just working on getting something done."
Brees is coming off a strong season, getting named the 2011 Offensive Player of the Year after setting several key NFL single-season passing records. Brees is now atop the league's charts with records of 468 completions, 5,476 yards passing and a 71.2 completion percentage.
The last time Brees played a season with the one-year, franchise designation, was 2005, his last in a San Diego Chargers' uniform. That situation still doesn't sit well with Brees, and he's determined not to play on another one-year deal if at all avoidable.
"I hope not," Brees told The Dan Patrick Show. "I've played under the franchise tag before back in 2005 with the San Diego Chargers, and that did not end well for me. That ended with a dislocated shoulder in the last game of the season going into a year when I didn't have a contract and fighting for my career at that point."