Drew Brees Expects to Return to Saints in 2018 Despite Free Agency

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2018

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees takes part in a news conference following an NFL divisional football playoff game in Minneapolis, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. The Vikings defeated the Saints 29-24. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Drew Brees isn't going anywhere—at least as long as he's making the decision.

Brees told reporters after Sunday's gut-wrenching 29-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings he expects to return for a 13th season with the New Orleans Saints.

"I'm hoping I'm a part of a few more that I feel that way about and we can make a run at it," Brees said after saying he believed the Saints were a Super Bowl contender. "Unfortunately, sometimes experience is a tough teacher, and things happen, and you can go one of two ways with it.

"Does it put you in the tank? Does it pull you apart? Or does it unite you and make you stronger and mold you and strengthen you? That's the outlook I'm taking, and I think that's the outlook that our entire team is taking."

Brees, 39, can become an unrestricted free agent in March. He's publicly made it clear he only wants to continue his playing career in New Orleans, a stance that is likely stronger following the divisional-round loss in Minnesota.

Case Keenum hit Stefon Diggs on an improbable 61-yard pass as time expired to give the Vikings the win. Brees previously led the Saints to what looked like a game-winning drive capped off by a 43-yard Wil Lutz field goal with 25 seconds remaining.

New Orleans made its first playoff appearance since the 2013 season after three straight 7-9 campaigns. Brees said he does not know how much longer he plans to continue playing.

"I mean, I'm more toward the end of my career than the beginning, I know that," Brees said. "That's all I divulge [about how long I plan on playing]. But the season ends, and this one will sting, but I think you look back at the things we accomplished and some of the memories that were made and the relationships that were built and the way this team came together. It really leaves me excited for the future of Saints football."

This Saints team was far different than their predecessors, equipped with arguably the NFL's best running back tandem in Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram and a young defense. Brees set an NFL record with a 72.0 completion percentage but had his lowest passing yards total (4,334) since 2005 and his fewest touchdown passes (23) since 2003.

The Saints will likely look to move forward with Brees playing something of an elite game-manager role, which may play a part in their contract negotiations. He made $24.25 million in 2017.

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