- Associated Press - Saturday, March 3, 2012

METAIRIE, LA. (AP) - The New Orleans Saints have placed the franchise tag on Drew Brees _ giving them exclusive negotiating rights with their Pro Bowl quarterback for the next year.

Brees has been involved in lengthy contract talks with the Saints and, without the tag, could have negotiated with other teams as a free agent. Team spokesman Greg Bensel said Saturday that the Saints were officially notifying the NFL of the designation.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune and ESPN.com previously reported that Brees would get the tag.

In January, Brees said he would be “beyond stunned” if he and the Saints are unable to agree on a contract extension during this offseason.

In 2011, Brees set NFL records with 468 completions, 5,476 yards passing and a completion percentage of 71.2. His prolific passing numbers helped the Saints set a new NFL high for total offensive yards in a season with 7,474.

He has been with the Saints for six seasons, leading them to a win in the 2010 Super Bowl.

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