Drew Brees has been the face of the New Orleans Saints for a decade and may wind up ending his NFL career in the Big Easy after signing an extension on Sept. 7 in a move first reported by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
ESPN's Ed Werder noted that while Brees' extension is for five years, it automatically voids to two in which he'll be owed $44.25 million in guaranteed money. According to Larry Holder of NOLA.com, Brees envisions playing beyond the two years guaranteed in the contract.
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At a press conference, Brees discussed signing a new deal with New Orleans, per Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith:
I’m humbled and honored, and have been since the day I first set foot here as a New Orleans Saint. It’s been an incredible journey and I hope to continue that journey for quite a bit longer. Both sides are very happy, certainly I’m very happy. I want to play my entire career here. ... This allows me to be here for a bit longer and I’ll be here as long as they’ll have me.
The deal will provide salary-cap relief to the Saints in the short term. Brees' cap figure fell from $30 million to $17.25 million, per Werder.
ESPN's Andrew Brandt added further details regarding the financial details of the new deal:
ESPN Stats & Info noted how much money the veteran quarterback has earned over the course of his career:
This past Monday, CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported Brees was looking to sign for four years and $100 million and that negotiations were unlikely to continue past the start of the season.
On Sunday, La Canfora, citing sources, reported that during negotiations, Brees' representatives began mulling potential suitors in 2017 had an extension not been reached. La Canfora noted the Arizona Cardinals were highlighted before Carson Palmer received his extension.
In March, Werder reported the Saints were working on a possible four-year extension with their surefire Hall of Famer. In an interview the same month with Matt Moscona of the After Further Review Show (via NOLA.com's Jeff Duncan), Brees stated his desire to stay with the team: "I want to be a Saint for the rest of my career. I think I've got a lot of good years left."
Where it once seemed crazy the Saints would let Brees walk in free agency, the idea didn't appear all that far-fetched this year. Even somebody as consistent as Brees isn't immune to the aging curve. He's on the wrong side of 30 and suffered a significant shoulder injury during the 2015 season.
While one can make a strong case the best decision would have been letting Brees leave and rebuilding for the long term, signing him to a new deal is defensible. The nine-time Pro Bowler showed few signs of a major decline prior to the 2015 season.
Here's a look at his stats from the last six years:
|Drew Brees by the Numbers (2010-2015)|
|Season||Yards||Comp. %||TD||TD %||INT||INT %||QB Rating|
Plus, it's not as if the Saints have a talented young quarterback waiting in the wings. ESPN's Field Yates tweeted about how thin next year's free-agent market is poised to be:
On one hand, this move is an example of the short-term thinking that has gotten New Orleans into a cap mess. On the other, the franchise's best chance of winning now is keeping Brees, especially with head coach Sean Payton sticking around.
After strengthening the defense in free agency, the Saints will be playoff contenders. Removing Brees from the equation would have all but eliminated that as a possibility beyond this season.