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No progress between Saints, Brees on Wednesday

The 2012 ESPY Awards - Backstage & Audience

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 11: NFL player Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, winner of the Best Record-Breaking Performance Award poses backstage during the 2012 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

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The clock keeps ticking, but no one is talking.

Or, perhaps more accurately, they may be talking, but they’re making no progress.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees made no progress on Wednesday toward a long-term deal. That gives the two sides four full days and 16 hours of a fifth to work something out. Otherwise, Brees and the Saints can do only a one-year deal for 2012.

Meanwhile, more information has surfaced regarding the divide between player and team. Though the relative gap on average value seems small, given that the Saints reportedly have offered $19.25 million per year and Brees reportedly wants $20.5 million annually, the Associated Press reports that the two sides are more than $10 million apart on guaranteed money.

Unfortunately, the AP report doesn’t say how much Brees wants or how much the Saints have offered in guarantees. Likewise, there’s no mention of the type of guarantees at issue. Brees presumably would get a large chunk of fully guaranteed money in the first year. For funding purposes, another sizable chunk for the second and possibly third year would be guaranteed for injury only at first, converting to a full guarantee next year.

As to the annual average, the AP report suggests that $20.5 million could represent a reasonable increase over Peyton Manning’s $19.2 million average. The difference, however, is that Manning got his contract on the open market. Brees doesn’t have that kind of leverage.

He could next year, but he doesn’t now. And so perhaps the answer is, as we suggested earlier today, to take the $16.371 million now, assume the risk of injury for one more season, and then cash in even bigger in March than he could now -- especially if the Saints can’t or won’t devote $23.57 million in cap space to Brees under the franchise tag, allowing him to strike an even better deal (with a lower cap number in 2013), based on what other teams would offer.

Either way, this one will be over once and for all by Monday, or it will continue to linger into next year.