ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Wednesday, citing a source, that $10.85 million of Brees' $20 million salary for the upcoming season is guaranteed.
Brees posted a 101.0 passer rating this past season with 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Saints' woeful defense was more to blame for the team's 7-9 record.
The Saints brought in Garrett Grayson in the third round of last year's NFL draft as Brees' presumptive successor, but the 37-year-old veteran still has at least one season left in New Orleans.
CBS Sports' Joel Corry explained how Brees' contract is a relative bargain under the current NFL salary-cap climate:
Salary cap was $120.6M when Drew Brees signed for $20M per year in 2012. Equivalent deal with a $153.4M 2016 cap is $25.439M per year.— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) February 10, 2016
Brees' five-year, $100 million deal will expire at the end of the 2016 season, leaving the Saints' most important position in doubt moving forward. Given his exceptional production this past year, it stands to reason Brees has at least a few good seasons left in him before retirement.
The question is whether Brees will stick around in New Orleans. He led the Saints to a Super Bowl XLIV title and was named MVP in that game, but the team hasn't won the NFC South since 2011 and has gone 7-9 in three of the past four years.
A thin supporting cast is in place to complement Brees as well. His longtime go-to receiver, Marques Colston, is nearing the end of his career, and beyond 2014 first-round pick Brandin Cooks, New Orleans has few offensive weapons to speak of other than running back Mark Ingram.
If New Orleans misses the playoffs again in 2016, both Brees and head coach Sean Payton may be gone. The organization has to feel good about that dynamic partnership continuing for the next season, but it could come to an abrupt halt if the Saints' record doesn't markedly improve.