Drew Brees 'frustrated' by talks
ESPN.com news services
May 17, 2012
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Drew Brees says his contract negotiations with the New Orleans Saints have become "extremely frustrating."

The Saints placed the exclusive rights franchise tag on Brees in March and the sides have until July 16 to hammer out a long-term extension. The contract talks have loomed all offseason, but have taken on even greater significance in the light of the NFL's bounty investigation which cost the Saints draft picks, thousands of dollars in fines and got several coaches and players suspended, including head coach Sean Payton's yearlong ban.

Brees said Wednesday in an interview with WWL radio in New Orleans that he doesn't know why the sides haven't been able to work out a deal yet.

"It's been extremely frustrating for me," Brees said. "I don't think the negotiations should have been this difficult."

Brees, who has not attended the team's offseason program, says he's committed to getting a deal done, but is frustrated by what he perceives to be a lack of communication from the team.

"What's been a little frustrating on my end, or disappointing, is the lack of communication," the reigning AP Offensive Player of the Year said. "We've reached out on quite a few occasions and at times I know I've been frustrated with the lack of response."

While Brees said he wants to return to the team as soon as possible, he raised the possibility of missing minicamp and even training camp if he does not reach a long-term extension that he believes is appropriate. Brees has missed several weeks of voluntary offseason training with the club, and New Orleans holds its first offseason practices, called organized team activities, next week.

Brees said the Saints cannot pretend that the NFL's bounty investigation and resulting punishment -- including the suspension of Payton for the whole 2012 season -- has not been a huge distraction that makes the remainder of the Saints' offseason work "very important."

"This is a big time for our team, especially when you look at what has happened this offseason," he said.

Given his leadership role and his performance during his past six seasons, Brees said he would hope the Saints would make his next contract a top priority.

"There should be a sense of urgency and it just seems like there's not," Brees said.

Saints owner Tom Benson has said the sides were close to a long-term deal, but a person familiar with the negotiations told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on May 2 that was not the case.

The Saints this season will attempt to make the playoffs for a fourth straight time. If they do so, they'll be in the running to become the first team to play the Super Bowl on its home field next February in the Superdome.

New Orleans has most of the top players back from an offense that set numerous NFL records last season. The Saints have placed the exclusive franchise tag on Brees, meaning he won't be playing anywhere else next season. However, Brees does not have to report and has said he has no intention of playing under a one-year franchise tag that does not give him any long-term security.

"I feel like our position is very reasonable and certainly appropriate for the situation that I'm in, which is having played the full extent of my (previous) six-year contract," Brees said. "I knew exactly what I was signing up for and over the last few years I have not said a peep about wanting a new contract or not being happy with my current contract. ... Certainly, I took on a lot of risk last year by playing the last year of my contract without anything guaranteed for the future."

Brees said he still wants to finish his career in New Orleans and has a plan to be as prepared as possible when he does eventually report.

"If that means missing OTAs, minicamp, training camp, I will be as ready as can possibly be," Brees said. "There's no way you can simulate those things anywhere else other than being on the field with your team, but I have a plan, so I'll execute that plan as I need to."

The six-time Pro Bowler said he's done everything that's been asked of him since joining the Saints in 2006 and is simply looking for fair market value.

"I think there's certainly what I think would be an appropriate, I guess, [salary] number for my situation," said Brees, who broke Dan Marino's single-season passing yards record last season, throwing for 5,476 yards and 46 touchdowns. "It's not I think anything that's unreasonable or anything like that. I'd say there's a lot that goes into these negotiations ... it's not as simple as what people might think. There are a lot of things to consider, a lot to talk about."

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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