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Nicks likely to get tag if Brees deal finished in time

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is lifted by guard Carl Nicks in New Orleans

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is lifted by guard Carl Nicks (77) after setting a new NFL single season passing record of 5087 yards, surpassing Dan Marino’s 5084 yards, with a touchdown pass to Darren Sproles against the Atlanta Falcons during their NFL football game in New Orleans, Louisiana December 26, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

REUTERS

Saints quarterback Drew Brees believes he’ll have a new contract before free agency starts.

If the deal comes in time for the Saints to avoid using the tag on Brees, the Saints will have the flexibility to retain either guard Carl Nicks or wide receiver Marques Colston with the one-year tag.

Jason La Canfora of NFL Network reports that Nicks is first in line. That decision makes sense because Nicks is a first team All Pro guard and Colston isn’t quite that elite a wide receiver.

The Saints may also be hesitant to pay Nicks the same huge money long term that they handed guard Jahri Evans. Keeping Nicks and Evans together for another year with Nicks on a one-year deal would be easier to swallow. Colston may be easier to sign long-term than Nicks and Colston would be easier to live without.

While Colston has had a special career in New Orleans, the Saints have a lot of weapons (Jimmy Graham, Lance Moore, and Darren Sproles) that catch passes over the middle of the field like Colston.