ESPN reported earlier today that the New Orleans Saints' contract negotiations with Drew Brees has been "extremely frustrating," according to the record-breaking quarterback.
New Orleans placed its franchise tag on Brees in March and have until July 16 to work on a long-term deal, but come on—this should have been an easy-go for the organization.
Brees, 33, finished first in touchdown passes (46), completion percentage (71.2), yards (5,476—an NFL record) and came in second with a 110.6 quarterback rating in 2011.
In six seasons with the Saints, the reigning AP Offensive Player of the Year has a regular season record of 63-33 (65.6 percent) with three straight years of at least 11 wins. He has taken his team to four playoff appearances during this time, compiling a 5-3 record and winning Super Bowl XLIV versus Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
In other words, general manager Mickey Loomis and Co. should have wrapped up this deal back in March, avoiding more unwanted media attention and a frustrated star quarterback.
"It's been extremely frustrating for me," Brees told WWL radio in New Orleans. "I don't think the negotiations should have been this difficult.
"What's been a little frustrating on my end, or disappointing, is the lack of communication," he continued. "We've reached out on quite a few occasions and at times I know I've been frustrated with the lack of response."
For a franchise that would be nothing without Brees (only one playoff appearance from 1993-2005), it seems a little odd that there's so much adversity between the two.
But then again, it has other distractions that are apparently far more important.
Commissioner Roger Goodell laid down the law from the bounty-gate scandal by suspending head coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season, banning Loomis for the first eight games, assistant coach Joe Vitt for six, fining the organization $500,000 and took away two second-round picks (one this year, one in 2013).
He also suspended Saints defensive captain Jonathan Vilma without pay for all of next season, while handing out shorter bans to other players for their roles in the cash-for-injuries system.
It's obvious that New Orleans is in a world of hurt right now for the approaching season, and with a disgruntled quarterback under center, I wouldn't be surprised if it missed the postseason. Plain and simple.
But we're talking future here. And if Brees knows what's good for him, he'll forgo a contract extension and fall to the free agency wire in 2013.
The Saints lost Carl Nicks—arguably the best guard in the league—to the market, as he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ben Grubbs is a solid replacement, but nowhere near the same talent level.
They also will be without wide receiver Robert Meachem, who played an important role as a complement to Marques Colston and the passing game. He finished 2011 with 40 receptions for 620 yards (15.5 yards per catch) and six touchdowns, and is in his prime at the age of 27.
However, it's not the offense that I'm too concerned about (Brees can turn anything and anyone into a weapon). The defense is the Achilles heel to the team, allowing a putrid 368.4 yards per game (24th in NFL), including a third-worst 259.8 yards through the air.
A lot of these issues had to do with the lack of pass rush from the defensive line. It got to the opposing quarterback just 33 times last year, allowing far too much time for receivers to get open and ultimately causing many breakdowns in the secondary. In addition, corners Tracy Porter and Leigh Torrence are no longer with the team.
The future does not look bright for this side of the ball, with no near signs of improvement and no second-round pick to upgrade in 2013. If the Saints wanted to make a splash for a dynamic defensive playmaker, it would likely have to give up Henderson or Lance Moore.
For the past three seasons, the Saints have been a powerhouse football organization. Now they're on a downward spiral with depleting ability.
Unfortunately for Brees, his heart is with the city of New Orleans and he's dedicated to its fans. He'll continue working on a long-term deal, knowing what path lies ahead.
But if he comes to his senses and holds off on the contract talks until next year, there will be new cities with their arms wide open, waiting to repeat the Manning-mania free agency hype: Buffalo, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland, New York (Jets), Miami, Arizona, and even Dallas would love to have him aboard.
Follow this reporter on Twitter: @Tyler_Waddell.