NEW ORLEANS, LA (The Spread) – With the threat of Monday’s deadline approaching, the Saints had no other choice but to tag free agent quarterback Drew Brees.

On Sunday the Saints assigned the exclusive-rights franchise tag to Brees, which means that the quarterback cannot talk with other teams. It also guarantees roughly $1 million more than the standard franchise tag, although Brees isn’t expected to play on the one-year deal anyway. More than likely the two sides will come to a long-term agreement before the start of the 2012-13 regular season.

But the Saints’ inability to lock up Brees long-term before having to apply the franchise tag will cost them an opportunity to use the tag on one of their other marquee free agents. Guard Carl Nicks and receiver Marques Colston are now set to hit the open market on March 13.

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According to some published reports, the two sides are $5 million a year apart. The Saints still have until July 16 to work out a long-term deal, but the two sides have been discussing Brees’ contract since last August so discussions may continue to move at a glacier-like pace.

The Saints’ Super Bowl odds, meanwhile, remain steady. They opened at 6/1 to win next year’s Super Bowl and 3/1 to win the NFC conference, and their odds remain the same as of this writing.

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