In a rare setback for the NFL, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees won his arbitration case against the league, and the win gives him added leverage against the New Orleans Saints.
Brees and the team were in dispute on the franchise tag New Orleans applied to him. The tag prevented Brees from accepting offers from other teams. The Saints apparently did offered Brees a contract. If Brees does not accept the deal, he would play for the salary set by the CBA for franchise quarterbacks, $16.4 million is 2012.
The Saints argued that they could hobble Brees with another franchise tag in 2013 if the two sides did not reach agreement. Brees begged to differ. The San Diego/LA Chargers placed the franchise tag on Brees in 2005 after his rookie contract expired. Brees and the union argued that a player should be franchised a maximum three times in his career, regardless of team.
Unlike prior findings, Arbitrator Stephen Burbank ruled that language in the CBA was not clear on this matter. The CBA has been impregnable in the union's assault on player conduct guidelines. Burbank clarified the franchise issue along the lines argued by the union. Now both Brees and the Saints know that he will earn $23 million as a franchised quarterback in 2013 if the team tags him for a third and final time.
The Saints reportedly offered Brees $19 million per year, but he countered with a demand for $21 million per year on a five-year contract. With the ruling, the hard-nosed dealing between Brees and the Saints may come to a quick end. Brees deserves it. the Saints need it.
Stephen Burbank is becoming the best-known NFL non-player since Dr. James Andrews and, um, Roger Goodell.