BOCA RATON, Fla. — The New Orleans Saints continue to work on extending the contract of their franchise quarterback.
Drew Brees wants to remain in New Orleans until the end of his career, and the Saints and Brees’ agent, Tom Condon, continue to work on an extension for the legend.
Saints coach Sean Payton has seen the fruit of some of those negotiations.
“Daily, Mickey’ll show me a text,” Payton said. “I know he and Tom have had quite a bit of discussion in the last week and a half, but I would say, ongoing now.”
Brees is working on a four-year extension with the Saints, according to a report by ESPN’s Ed Werder. With one year left on his deal, a four-year extension would put Brees under contract in New Orleans until he’s 41.
And the quarterback’s age makes this contract negotiation a little different than the other ones Brees has signed in New Orleans.
“It always takes a little longer than you want it to, and they’re never the same,” Payton said. “This one’s a different type of contract and negotiation than the last one.”
The NFL Competition Committee voted Wednesday to pass a rule proposed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that would automatically eject a player after two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Payton isn’t sure it was the right move.
By setting the rule at two penalties, Payton thinks the rule could unintentionally give players a free pass to commit one unsportsmanlike conduct penalty without fear of ejection.
“I don’t like the idea of two and you’re out, because I just think it gives the impression, it’s late in the third quarter, fourth quarter, we’re up 20, and I can use one,” Payton said
Drafted in part after the wild feud between Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Panthers cornerback Josh Norman, the rule would have applied only once this season: when Titans pass rusher Brian Orakpo melted down after a roughing-the-passer call against a teammate during Tennessee’s win over the Saints.
Payton isn’t sure this something the NFL should try to legislate at all.
If the Saints had players acting in a similar manner — and Payton referenced a Roman Harper penalty from the past — he’d be embarrassed by the situation and take care of it himself.
“I don’t know that we need a proposal,” Payton said. “I think we need to change the behavior, but I don’t think we need a proposal specifically to do that, I think we can do it at the club level.”
Blame to go around
Payton has spent plenty of time wondering why Brandon Browner didn’t work out in New Orleans.
The reason he came up with was that the Saints weren’t good enough as a defense as a whole, and it left Browner exposed on many occasions.
“I think there’s a handful of reasons,” Payton said. “We weren’t good enough overall as a defense; our front struggled,” Payton said. “I asked the same question; this guy just won a Super Bowl in New (England). So obviously the pass rush — it’s that perfect storm. The surrounding parts for us weren’t as strong as they needed to be.”
The Advocate charted Browner as giving up 56 receptions on 87 targets for 893 yards last season. However, Payton said that sometimes when it looked like Browner was being targeted it was actually a linebacker who was out of position.
“At times, some of the under coverage there’d be a play that you might see on tape, and it would appear that it would be Brandon’s play, and it was really one of the inside linebackers’ play,” Payton said. “It’s gotten to a point where he’s at in his career. It was important as a coach you kind of have a vision how you want something to unfold, but you got to let that happen.”
Payton said Browner struggling last season was one of the reasons the defense struggled, and it undermined his ability to serve as a leader, which was on of the things New Orleans initially liked about him.
“For us to have had success, one of those things last year defensively was for him to have played well and for us to have given him a chance to play well, because he’s a leader that’s wanting to lead,” Payton said. “It’s hard to when you’re becoming a target. It’s hard to do that. I think there were a lot of hands in that specifically.”
Almost locked up
Former Cleveland Browns linebacker Craig Robertson has agreed in principle to a three-year deal to join New Orleans, according to a source.
Payton hinted at the signing on the radio Tuesday, a move that may have been slightly premature.
“Not officially done,” Payton said. “Here’s a good way to put it, it’s in the works. They’ve got to work out some final details, and we’ve got to create that space.”
New Orleans opened the day with $1.298 million in salary cap space, a number that could rise if the Saints decide not to match the Chicago Bears’ three-year, $7.5 million offer to tight end Josh Hill and potentially restructure other contracts.
By adding the 28-year-old Robertson, who has started 37 games in his career, the Saints will have brought in three linebackers among their four free agents, having already signed James Laurinaitis and Nate Stupar.