Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have agreed to a new two-year deal worth $50 million, a source confirmed to ESPN, keeping the future Hall of Fame quarterback off the free-agent market as expected.
The deal includes $27 million guaranteed. The news was first reported by NFL Network.
Brees’ deal will be written as a two-year deal, but in actuality it will be a one-year deal with a team option after the first year, he confirmed to ESPN. It also will include a no-trade clause, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports, virtually ensuring that Brees finishes his career in New Orleans.
“I think that provides certainly the team with the most flexibility when it comes to being able to anticipate the future and the ability to acquire free agents and re-sign players on our existing roster that will build a championship team,” said Brees about his willingness to only take one year guaranteed.
Brees, who turned 39 in January, insisted all along that he wants to be a “Saint for life” and didn’t plan to let any other teams in on a bidding war — even though had he done so, he possibly could have become the highest-paid player in NFL history for the second time in his career.
“I love my team and am excited about the opportunity we will have together,” Brees said.
A source said that at least one other team was willing to give Brees $60 million guaranteed over two years to try and woo him away from New Orleans.
Brees’ decision to stay in New Orleans became even easier after the Saints re-emerged as Super Bowl contenders last season following a three-year playoff drought. Thanks to a revamped defense and improved running game, Brees was able to throw for his fewest yards (4,334), touchdowns (23) and interceptions (8) in his 12 seasons with the Saints while setting the NFL record for completion percentage (72.0).
The Saints, however, have made it clear that they want to take things one year at a time with Brees’ contract at this stage of his career — especially since they still have $18 million in dead money from his previous contracts waiting to hit the books. All of that money would have hit this year’s salary cap if Brees hadn’t signed a new deal by March 14.
“There was no doubt in our minds, I think both myself and the Saints, that we were gonna get a deal done,” Brees said. “It was just a matter of what was the most fair deal for me and for the team to put us in the best position to succeed in the near future. And that’s what we tried to do with the deal.”
The Saints also weren’t allowed to use the franchise tag on Brees because of a clause in his most recent contract.
This is now the second time that Brees has signed a short-term extension with New Orleans, after he signed a one-year, $24.25 million extension before the start of the 2016 season. And this is the fourth contract Brees has signed with the Saints overall — starting with his six-year, $60 million deal in 2006 that turned around the franchise’s fortunes when they took a chance on him after he suffered a major shoulder injury with the San Diego Chargers.
Brees then led the Saints to their first and only Super Bowl title during the 2009 season and became the first $20 million man in NFL history with a five-year, $100 million deal in 2012.
He has thrown for 58,097 yards and 408 touchdowns with the Saints — the most by any quarterback in any 12-season span in NFL history. He is on pace to pass both Peyton Manning and Brett Favre in 2018 to become the NFL’s all-time passing yardage leader.
Brees needs 1,496 yards to break Manning’s record of 71,940. He needs 52 more touchdown passes to break Manning’s NFL record of 539.