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Report: Arbitrator rules for Saints QB Drew Brees in franchise tag dispute

Arbitrator Stephen Burbank has ruled in favor of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees in his dispute over the Saints' use of the franchise tag, reports ESPN's Chris Mortenson on Twitter.

[tweet https://twitter.com/mortreport/status/220169981424451585]

[tweet https://twitter.com/mortreport/status/220171581907943424]

The Collective Bargaining Agreement contained vague language about the use of the franchise tag. There was uncertainty over whether each team could use the tag three times on a player or if the tag could be applied only a total of three times to a player throughout his career.

The San Diego Chargers used the franchise tag on Brees in 2005, and the Saints used the tag this season. The key dispute was whether the Chargers' tag counted toward how many times the Saints can use their tag. The arbitrator ruled that it did. If the Saints want to use the tag next season, it would count as the third use of the tag on Brees. (The NFL could still appeal the decision).

The main difference in Brees' case is money: On the third use, a player receives 140 percent of his previous salary. On the second use, its only 120 percent. For Brees, the difference amounts to nearly $4 million.

In theory, the ruling helps all NFL players going forward, but Brees is only the second player ever franchised by more than one team, meaning the application could be limited.

But in Brees' case, the key effect will likely come in the quarterback's negotiations for a new long-term contract. Brees now has' additional leverage because of the higher price tag for next year. That could result in additional guaranteed money for the veteran quarterback.

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