It’s Almost Over (the arbitrator rules)

3 Jul

The celebration is near.


Well, of course there is. It’s right here.

The arbitrator ruled in Brees’s favor.  To explain simply: this is now considered Brees’s second franchise tag, following his tag with the Chargers in 2005.  It’s a little surprising – I thought he’d rule in the Saints’ favor.  That might be because I’m not a lawyer.  Anyway, the language was pretty ambiguous, to the point that the arbitrator quoted Kate Turabian in his ruling (the CBA could’ve used a footnote or two, while we’re at it).

This year’s franchise value won’t change.  The “second tag” is worth either 120% of the previous year’s salary (not of the franchise tag – that’s a significant distinction), or the value of a first franchise tag, whatever is higher.  The franchise value is higher, at around 16 million.  So nothing changes in 2012.

In 2013, it will be his third tag.  Therefore, he’s owed at least 120% of franchise value or 144% of the previous year’s salary.  The second number is much higher, at about 23.5 million.  This brings his value for two years of franchise tags to around $40 million, increasing Brees’s leverage in the negotiations.

It’s a blow to the Saints and Loomis, who will have more money to pay out to meet that baseline in the negotiations.  But, Saints fans, Don’t Panic™.

I’ve said all along: this was a union move.  The endgame all along was for Brees to win this little battle, and devalue the franchise tag as applied to elite players (and it will come into play now – as some elite players get angry over the tag and find their way to new clubs).  Brees has won this battle, and there’s nothing left in the way of getting a deal done.

I thought from the start that Condon/Brees were pulling some sort of unprecedented move to affect future negotiations – it makes sense, because Brees is a union guy, and he’s thinking about legacy.  What’s best for the players.  That’s his modus operandi.

It’s as good as done now.  There are no stumbling blocks left.  It wouldn’t surprise me if two deals were already prepared – one for each scenario – and now the highest deal is ready to be signed.

So don’t freak out, folks.  Next year’s free agency period could be a nightmare.  We just don’t know yet.  I’ll trust in the genius of Loomis to figure all that out and just celebrate the fact that for now, or for the next 12 days anyway, hope is renewed.

If I’m wrong, I’ll be right here panicking with the rest of you come July 16.  For now, I’m smiling.  And I suggest you do the same.  And save a few of those fireworks tomorrow.

We’ll have a quarterback again soon.

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