METAIRIE, La. — Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints waited until the 11th hour. But they finally agreed to a contract extension Wednesday, according to league sources — four days before the quarterback’s self-imposed Week 1 deadline.
Brees, 37, acknowledged that he would have preferred a long-term deal.
“I plan to play for longer than two years, so yeah, I think my mindset going into this was to be able to secure a deal that would take me for as long as I plan on playing,” he said. “But this is what was in the best interest of the team. And so that’s why it was a two-year deal.”
This is Brees’ third contract with the Saints after he originally signed with the team in 2006. In 2012, he became the highest-paid player in NFL history to that point, thanks to his five-year, $100 million contract.
Brees was headed into the final year of his previous contract.
His decade in New Orleans has been the most prolific of any quarterback in NFL history. His 48,555 yards and 348 touchdown passes are the most of any quarterback in any 10-year span, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Brees has won exactly 100 games with the Saints — including the only Super Bowl victory in franchise history, a 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts after the 2009 season.
He could pass Peyton Manning for No. 1 on the NFL’s all-time passing yardage (71,940) and passing touchdown (539) lists before his next deal is up. He’s on pace to do so within three or four years.
Brees ranks fourth in NFL history with 60,903 passing yards and will likely pass Dan Marino for third in Week 2. He and Tom Brady are tied for third in NFL history with 428 touchdown passes.
Man, it would have been fun. Just like it would have been fun to see Andrew Luck hold out for full guarantees. Alas, it was not to be. Quarterback deals almost always work out the way you expect them to work out in the NFL, mainly because everybody’s got too much to lose.
From the Saints’ standpoint, this is the right move. Yeah, Brees is 37 and the group around him is nothing like it was in their Super Bowl heyday. They face major salary-cap issues in the next couple of years, with or without this deal. You could make the case that the right thing to do would be to move on. But any such case leads to a situation where the Saints don’t know who their quarterback is next year. And there’s nothing scarier for a team than that.
When you don’t know who your quarterback is, Howie Roseman can take your lunch money, your locker combination and that copy of the chemistry final you swiped off the teacher’s flash drive. It’s a bad situation. The Saints obviously weren’t feeling great about Garrett Grayson, next year’s draft will be the fifth in a row that doesn’t include Luck, and the best free agents on the market would be Kirk Cousins and Brees himself. Nobody wants to be lost in that particular wilderness. The Saints will stick with Brees until his arm falls off if that’s cool with him, and it appears it is.
Yes, the really interesting thing about this deal is how badly Brees apparently wanted it done. While it may have seemed fun from the outside to think about Brees on the open market, people close to Brees say it didn’t sound fun to him. He didn’t want to be seen as a guy trying to cash in one last time. He’s basically a New Orleans legend at this point — a very wealthy and comfortable one at that. So taking what amounts to a one-year, $24 million extension ended up being fine. It mattered to Brees that he stick it out with Sean Payton and the Saints in the hope that they could build the roster up around him just enough to make one more run.