First of all, as a Falcons fan the mere fact that Drew Bree has not already re-upped with the Saints is a potential source of delight. The protracted negotiations could force the team to use the franchise tag on Brees, which would preclude them from locking down vital free agents like Carl Nicks.
Even with the scandal and the Brees pall the Saints will probably be a good football team in 2012, so it's way too early to get your hopes up. But losing Nicks and Marques Colston—and potentially releasing other valuable players like Sedrick Ellis—would put a dent in their dominance. That's especially true because Nicks is basically irreplaceable at left guard. One way or the other, they will re-sign Brees, but someone is going to be left unhappy by the final outcome.
Why should you care, aside from schadenfreude? Because the brutal negotiations with Brees—the two sides are said to be about $5 million apart per year right now—points out what happens when a franchise quarterback goes to market with considerable leverage. Brees is well within his rights to demand one of the richest quarterback contracts in NFL history, because he's earned every dime. But he's also enormously popular in New Orleans and could dropkick and orphan without repercussions, which means the Saints can't afford to play hardball with him.
After the jump, why it matters to you.
This could someday apply to the Atlanta Falcons, too. There was some grumbling about the Falcons' plans to lock Matt Ryan up early, but the team is smart to avoid a Breesian situation down the line. Ryan will probably not ever be in a position to demand as much money as Brees is likely to get, but he can still make life difficult for the front office if the team lets him get to the cusp of free agency.
It's not impossible to think that Ryan might catch fire over the next two seasons and make the Falcons regret not giving him an extension. After all, he's already a very good quarterback, and he compares favorably to Brees after four seasons as a starter:
Brees: 62.1 completion %, 12,127 yards, 79 touchdowns, 53 interceptions, 84.6 passer rating
Ryan: 60.9 completion %, 14,238 yards, 95 touchdowns, 46 interceptions, 88.4 passer rating
It's not outlandish to think that Ryan could put up something along the lines of 60 touchdowns, 30 interceptions and 8,000 yards over the next two seasons, just by very roughly extrapolating based on his 2011 season. At that point, he'd have a career line that looked like this:
Ryan: 61% completion, 22,000 yards, 155 touchdowns, 76 interceptions
I promise you that there would be teams clamoring over one another to sign a 28 year-old quarterback with those numbers, and they could be even better than that with the change in offensive philosophy coming in 2012. If the Falcons let Ryan get to the open market, it's entirely possible they'll either be outbid or forced to pay a king's ransom to keep him. Neither outcome is desirable.
This is all to explain why I so strongly support the Falcons getting a deal done sooner rather than later. By getting Ryan to sign the dotted line on a five-to-six year deal, they've got him until his mid-30's and will ensure he's around for his prime in Atlanta, all while likely paying a slightly below market rate for a franchise quarterback. It's a smart move, and the front office should be commended and not condemned for pursuing it.
We don't want to be wearing the shoes of 2012 Saints fans in a couple of years, after all.