While New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton is busy getting divorced, his top quarterback is busy ironing out a few wrinkles over his franchise tag.  Back in March, the Saints put the franchise tag on Brees, meaning that even if they don't sign a long-term contract with him, he'll still play in New Orleans this year.  But there was still a lingering question -- just how many times could they do that?

According to ESPN, officials weren't sure of how the franchise tag works.  According to the rules, a player can only be tagged three times.  But is it three times with one team or three times in your ENTIRE career?  Well, Drew Brees got his first tag back when he was playing for the San Diego Chargers in 2005.  Brees has been arguing that the Saints can only tag him twice.

Today, NFL Arbitrator Stephen Burbank ruled in favor of Brees, noting that players can only get three tags in their entire career.  That means that the Saints can tag him this year, if they can't come to an agreement on a long-term contract.  And they can do it next year, too -- but if they do, they'll be giving him a huge raise.

Brees' current tag is worth $16.371 million, which won't change with the ruling. However, taking into account the 144 percent raise, a would-be tag in 2013 would put Brees' cap number at $23,574,240, according to ESPN.com senior NFL writer John Clayton. If the Saints chose to use their exclusive-rights tag on Brees in 2013, that would put his two-year earnings at $39,945,240, or a little less than $20 million per year.

The NFL declined comment on Burbank's finding or whether it intends to appeal, which the league could do.

The Saints and Brees are locked in a protracted contract battle and have until July 16 to hammer out a long-term extension.


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