It appears that New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees may be close to a final deal with his team, possibly somewhere around the $19 million range.  Reports came out of New Orleans yesterday from NBC’s Pro Football Talk that both sides are closer than originally thought.

Either way, Brees will be playing this season.  The Saints put their franchise tag on him back in March, which will hold him for at least one more year at around $16 million.  However, the two sides have until July 16 to negotiate a deal before the franchise tag kicks in.  In the meantime, Brees has not been participating in the team’s offseason workouts.

There have been widespread reports that Drew Brees has been asking for about $21-$23 million in a multi-year contract, but sources quoted by NBC said Drew has never asked for that much, and the Saints are prepared to put $18-$19 million on the table.  In other words – the two sides are pretty close.  So, if that’s the case, why are the negotiations still dragging on, and why are both sides being made to seem so angry at one another?  NBC thinks it’s all a matter of perception:

It could be that the Saints are pushing the bigger numbers, in the hopes of creating the impression that, once they move toward Brees’ real bottom line, it will be perceived that the final number is much closer to what the Saints had offered than to what Brees had wanted, which in turn will result in a belief that the Saints “won” the tug-o-war.

Even if that’s the strategy, it makes no sense for the Saints to sacrifice Brees’ involvement in the offseason program during an offseason of so much upheaval and uncertainty.  While Brees may not need the extra work in order to pick up where he left off in 2011, the Saints need Brees.

--NBC's Pro Football Talk

Yeah, tell me about it.  Anyway, Brees himself has said the media has been blowing the negotiations out of proportion, reporting far larger figures than Brees is asking for.  I wouldn’t worry, though – even the Saints won’t be stupid enough to let go of the guy who broke the single-season passing record last season with a total of 5,476 yards – especially in a year without their head coach.  They’re just going to drag it out to the last second so they can try to look like they fought the good fight.  The only question left is just how happy they want to make Drew Brees before the regular season starts Sept. 9.

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