|National Football League|
Brees critical of Saints in radio interview
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Drew Brees said in a radio interview Wednesday night that he is frustrated by what he views as a lack of communication with the New Orleans Saints in his ongoing contract negotiations, adding the club should have shown more urgency to get a long-term deal done.
"It's been extremely frustrating for me. I don't think the negotiations should have been this difficult," Brees said on WWL radio in New Orleans. "What's been a little frustrating on my end, or disappointing, is the lack of communication. We've reached out on quite a few occasions and at times I know I've been frustrated with the lack of response."
While Brees said he wants to return to the team as soon as possible, he raised the possibility of missing minicamp and even training camp if he does not reach a long-term extension that he believes is appropriate. Brees has missed several weeks of voluntary offseason training with the club, and New Orleans holds its first offseason practices, called organized team activities, next week.
Brees said the Saints cannot pretend that the NFL's bounty investigation and resulting punishment - including the suspension of head coach Sean Payton for the whole 2012 season - has not been a huge distraction that makes the remainder of the Saints' offseason work "very important."
"This is a big time for our team, especially when you look at what has happened this offseason," he said.
Given his leadership role and his performance during his past six seasons, Brees said he would hope the Saints would make his next contract a top priority.
"There should be a sense of urgency and it just seems like there's not," Brees said.
The Saints did not immediately respond to Brees' comments. However, general manager Mickey Loomis said last month he understands that he has never worked on a more important deal than Brees' extension, and he wants to come up with a deal that makes his star quarterback happy.
The Saints this season will attempt to make the playoffs for a fourth straight time. If they do so, they'll be in the running to become the first team to play the Super Bowl on its home field next February in the Superdome.
New Orleans has most of the top players back from an offense that set numerous NFL records last season, when Brees passed for an NFL single-season record 5,474 yards, smashing Dan Marino's mark of 5,084, which had stood since 1984. The Saints have placed the exclusive franchise tag on Brees, meaning he won't be playing anywhere else next season. However, Brees does not have to report and has said he has no intention of playing under a one-year franchise tag that does not give him any long-term security.
"I feel like our position is very reasonable and certainly appropriate for the situation that I'm in, which is having played the full extent of my (previous) six-year contract," Brees said. "I knew exactly what I was signing up for and over the last few years I have not said a peep about wanting a new contract or not being happy with my current contract. ... Certainly, I took on a lot of risk last year by playing the last year of my contract without anything guaranteed for the future."
Brees said he still wants to finish his career in New Orleans and has a plan to be as prepared as possible when he does eventually report.
"If that means missing OTAs, minicamp, training camp, I will be as ready as can possibly be," Brees said. "There's no way you can simulate those things anywhere else other than being on the field with your team, but I have a plan, so I'll execute that plan as I need to."
Updated May 17, 2012