Money or the Moment: A Crazy Week in the Big Easy Could Affect Super Bowl Hopes

Vincent JacksonCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 14:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints looks on during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Mercedes-Benz SuperDome has hosted multiple memorable Super Bowls and entering 2012, the Saints will look to become the second team to ever attend the NFL's biggest game in its host city.

However with news coming out of a "play for pay" program perpetrated by a former defensive boss and the second-in-command calling his superstar quarterback "very good" things in the Big Easy are not.....well, so easy nowadays.

Let's start at the beginning.

According to reports, Saints quarterback Drew Brees apparently turned the franchise's offer to become the highest paid player in NFL history.  According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Brees and the Saints are $5 million apart in negotiations and will most likely place the franchise tag on him if a deal is not reached by Monday.  New Orleans had offered Brees an $18 million (per season), five-year contract although he (Brees) wants as much as $23 million.

That figure would exceed the Patriots' Tom Brady as well as the current (and possibly former) Colts' Peyton Manning per-year salary over the full-term of the agreement.  Brees signed a six-year, $60 million free agent deal in 2006 after being released by San Diego.  

Should the Saints give into Brees' demands (and who knows if they will), New Orleans will sign him to a $115 million contract, which will be the biggest in NFL history and exceed Albert Haynesworth's $100 million, seven-year contract that he signed with Washington.

With the clock ticking, the Saints cannot afford to waste time.  Brees, 33, is coming off one of the greatest seasons in NFL history.  He threw for an NFL-record 5,476 yards and a franchise-record 46 touchdowns, leading New Orleans to a team-record tying 13 victories before falling to NFC West champions San Francisco in the divisional playoffs.

What might keep Brees' head on a swivel are new reports coming out of current Rams and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams running what the NFL deemed a "bounty fund." According to a three-year investigation, the league found between 22 and 27 Saints defensive players were paid in total over $50,000 for causing purposeful injuries to pre-targeted players and rewarded for knocking those players out of the game or seeing them carried off the field.

What also adds to crazy week for the Saints is a recent press conference involving Mickey Loomis was highlighted by him deeming Brees as "very good."  To many it sounds like a slap in the face to a guy that took a moribund franchise to new and unprecedented heights, while rewriting the record books. Brees was "very good" in 2006, leading the Saints to their first NFC Championship game.  He is nothing short of a legend now, shattering passing records left and right with an offense that is on par with some of the best all-time.

These recent events coinciding with free agency now put New Orleans at the forefront of the NFL universe.  The Saints must rebuild their image as a franchise that everyone wants to play for, and quickly.  They also must get a deal done with Brees because the longer these events linger on, the more a distraction they become and derail the Saints' real focus: Their second world championship, at home, in the Big Easy.

New Orleans, you know have a question to answer: Are you in it for the money.....or the moment?