By BRETT MARTEL, Associated Press
METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt and Drew Brees have spoken about preparations for training camp, and Vitt said he expects the star quarterback to be back with the team by then.
When asked why he's confident Brees will be back from his contract holdout, Vitt cracked, "what else is he going to do? He can't sing or dance."
New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis has said his top priority is to come up with a contract that satisfies Brees, but that the club has to be careful to avoid rushing into a deal that will affect team significantly for years to come.
The Saints have placed a one-year franchise tag on Brees, which prevents him from negotiating with other clubs. However, Brees, whose last six-year deal expired after last season, is holding out for a new multi-year contract that will make him among the NFL's highest-paid players.
So far, the 33-year-old quarterback has skipped several weeks of voluntary workouts, as well as the first six offseason practices held this week and last. It looks like Brees may also miss minicamp next week and the last set of offseason practices later in June.
The Saints have until July 16th to sign Brees to a new long-term deal. Otherwise, he can play under the one-year franchise tag for about $16.3 million — or sit out the season and get nothing.
Brees has not hinted at sitting out any of the regular season, by which time he would have to report to receive his full season salary under the franchise tag. However, Brees has suggested he might sit out parts or all of training camp, which opens in late July, if no long-term deal is in place by July 16.
Vitt doesn't expect it to come to that.
"He's going to be here," said Vitt, who is acting as head coach during Sean Payton's season-long suspension in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation.
"I don't think anybody thought this was going to be easy," Vitt said. "There's a lot of revolving pieces here that Mickey's got to get fit in with the (salary) cap and get people signed, and so on and so forth, and it's all going to fit into the future. This is going to get done."
Brees is expected to command an annual salary in the range of the $19.2 million per year that Denver gave to Peyton Manning, who is three years older than Brees and sat out last season while recovering from neck surgery.
Brees, meanwhile, passed for a single-season record 5,476 yards in 2011, completing a record 71.2 percent of his passes to go with 46 touchdowns.
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