I wish I had $100 for every time I was asked over the past 51/2 months when Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints were going to get together on a new contract.
Rounding it off, I’m pretty sure it would amount to the princely sum of $4,300 (roughly five months of mortgage payments on my home).
Then again, if I had to give back the money every time I was wrong, I’d have exactly $100 million less than the leader and unquestioned face of the franchise stands to make after his record-setting deal was struck Friday morning.
For what seemed like an eternity, that megabucks contract seemed to be the one and only thing on Saints fans minds — the bounty scandal and its ugly consequences notwithstanding, of course.
And it wasn’t just the certified, died-in-the-wool Who Dat fans who asked.
Anyone and everyone, even the casual fan who doesn’t pay a lot of attention to the NFL in the offseason, wanted to know what none of us on the outside knew: What in the world was going on down on Airline Drive in Metairie, and what in the world were they waiting on?
When was Brees, the only quarterback to guide the Saints to a Super Bowl title, going to get paid for six record-shattering seasons since coming to New Orleans in March 2006?
When was Saints owner Tom Benson going to take the checkbook out and scribble his signature on a blank check made payable to Andrew Christopher Brees?
When were the Saints going to do whatever it took to lock up the most popular player in franchise history?
When, when, when?
You knew it was going to get done. But for the longest time, there was no answer from the Saints or from Brees, who maintained throughout the process that he was confident of securing a long-term deal.
The best guess at the time was it was going to be in mid-February, just before the start of the league year.
Then, it was mid-March. Then mid-May, just in time for the start of organized team activities.
Few thought it would take until mid-July, just three days before the deadline for players who received the franchise tag to get long-term deals or else be forced to play for the one-year quarterback tender of $16.371 million.
And, few figured it would be resolved just 11 days before the Saints report for training camp.
The truth of the matter is, no matter how badly Brees wanted to come back and possibly finish his career with the Saints, it was going to take time.
That’s why General Manager Mickey Loomis, the man responsible for making sure the team has enough salary cap space to keep Brees surrounded with the talent needed to contend for a second Vince Lombardi Trophy, had to ensure it was the right deal for both sides.
It may have taken a while, but in the end it made sense for the Saints to make Brees, the most productive quarterback in the NFL for the past six seasons, the highest paid player in league history.