The deal is done. Drew Brees has signed his long-term deal and he can march back into the city as the all time favorite son. Brees will be lauded in papers, sports talk shows, and blog post around the land. The WhoDat Nation will scream and type with un-abandoned glee – their hero is in the house.
Let’s not forget for a moment the angst and gnashing of teeth that existed before this signing. In a year when nothing appears to have gone right, loyal WhoDats were counting on the worst and pointing blame at all involved. Callers and bloggers filled the internet and talk shows by calling Saints management names, accusing Benson of being cheap, or not involved, or too much involved (talk about a guy that can’t win). It was delayed because of bountygate, ease-dropping, the purchase of the Hornets, BP oil spill, the flood, the drought. You name it, the citizens were restless. It was panic of near biblical proportion. Blogger and caller theories were abounding. Each time the local paper ran a contract update headline, the masses would flock to comment, even though the new news was the same as the old news.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Drew Brees. I am ecstatic that he signed. But I must admit I was never panicked or concerned. For all those that called the parties involved a variety of names, it was simply because they forgot this was a negotiation between two willing parties. There was never contention or bad words. There was maneuvering. When both parties agree that it is in the best interest of the organization to sign, then they had to find other ways to shift the negotiations in their favor. Face it – we all knew it would come down to the last minute. The shocker was it was done three days early and without a major press event. Sleep well, SaintNation, Drew is back in the house………….but
Let’s not forget the real hero of the hour. His name is Mickey Loomis. I would dare say that if he is not the best GM in the NFL, he is standing in a short line. Now don’t bring up the ease-dropping bogus crap or the alleged bountygate – that is on the periphery. Let’s talk about the man that has danced around very significant cap issues over the past three years and has been a master at getting things done and improving the roster along the way.
You don’t need to go back to 2006 when signing Drew Brees was a risk that no other team was showing serious interest. Let’s simply look at how he has managed a flat and tight salary cap over the past years.
Recall the fans that were screaming to “franchise” Darren Sharper. ML did not. ML set a value, allowed other teams to shop, yet he re-signed Sharper to a contract that fit the value parameter that Mr. Loomis had set.
Remember Reggie Bush and the nearly $12M cap hit that we were going to eat unless he was traded. Ole Mick created a market for Bush, and got both the Dolphins and Bush to agree to a trade and re-work that eliminated the cap hit. So much for the financial maneuver, many GMs can do that. Then in a matter of hours, he signs Mr. Sproles to take the roster spot. ….. BRILLIANT!
Don’t forget the release of Shockey and Stinchcomb with minimal dead money, but followed by solid depth of Graham and Strief.
Yes we lost Meacham and Nicks this year because money was tight, but did you see how quickly he signed another all pro to take Nicks spot? Then he got creative with Greer, Smith, and Vilma. Each case the deal was structured to reward the player and to be cap friendly. In Vilma’s case it was even more significant. No one was expecting anything with the pending suspension hanging over JV’s head. But just days before the announcement, Vilma’s contract was re-worked, paying him a significant bonus that allowed him to be paid this year with or without the suspension. Talk about taking care of the key players; and creating cap space to boot. Now, we understand why so many players look to the Saints as an organization to play for. ….. INTELLIGENT!
And in the Brees negotiation – he patiently waited; knowing in the end the deal would be done. He did not blurt out any frustration, he did not negotiate in the media, he did not react to media talking heads calling him out, he did not respond to public sentiment — he stayed focused on his job. Oh, he played his leverage cards and waited for Drew to play his, but he waited, he offered, and he waited. He worked to get Drew a contract that reflected his value to the team and he worked to keep the flexibility to build and hold a talented team around him. This is about winning. Yes, he paid the big bucks, yes it is a gamble… but having Drew was a given. Having Drew happy and reducing the cap hit this year by $6m (2012 – $10M) is outstanding. Yea the hit for 13 and 14 are a little tight, but well below what they could have been. 2015 and 16 are big, but the new television revenue should give the cap a boost. Who would have thought the team could have kept triggers in the out years? …… GENUIS!
Sleep well, my fellow WhoDats – Drew is locked and life is good. But sleep better because Mickey Loomis is our GM, he is the strong man behind the curtain and I am glad he is pulling the strings. BTW – No time to rest, Mick – - take the extra money and get Jimmy Graham locked before camp!