It's going to be tough for Saints to keep Carl Nicks

Mickey Loomis has some heavy lifting ahead of him and that is because the New Orleans Saints have a large cast of free agents to consider before March 13, some of them top players.

Quarterback Drew Brees is at the top of the list. Then, there are players like wide receiver Marques Colston, cornerback Tracy Porter and guard Carl Nicks.

Nicks told the New Orleans Times-Picayune it was “disheartening” that the team hasn’t come to him for substantive talks to this point. That might be because the club realizes it will not have room for Nicks after bucking up for fellow guard Jahri Evans, who signed a $56.7 million, seven-year deal in 2010. That’s probably right where Nicks would like to be, among the top-paid guards in the NFL at $8 million annually.

“They never talked to me at all about it really (last season), which I thought was kind of weird. But I talked to (Loomis) the last day before exit meetings, and he said they were going to do their best to try to keep me. So that's the gist of contract talks," Nicks told the Times-Picayune.

"I would love to stay, but it's also a good feeling to be wanted. So hopefully a lot of teams want me, but I would love to stay. They've still got to do Drew Brees' deal. And I think Marques is up and Tracy is up. I just don't see it, man, so I don't know. I would love to stay, but who knows."

The Saints could choose to place the franchise tag on Nicks but (guess what?) he’s not in favor of that option.

"I mean, if you're going to franchise me, you might as well give me a contract," Nicks said. "I figure if you're going to pay me that for one year, you might as well give me a five- or six-year deal that's probably not far from what I want."

There are some tough decisions for Loomis to make. It would be difficult to let an elite offensive lineman get away. Stay tuned.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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