July 13, 2012

Brees Set Another Record With Massive New Contract

There was a rainbow of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome today.

The whole city was abuzz with positive energy for one of the few times all offseason - the heart of the franchise had a new contract and could put months of speculation behind.

Drew Brees, 33, is now the highest paid player in the NFL.

"What Drew has accomplished in his time with the Saints, he deserves to be the highest paid player in the league," said general manager Mickey Loomis. "We are excited to have this deal done and behind us and look forward to the next five years with Drew as our quarterback."

With an average income of $20 million over the next five seasons, a new NFL record, Brees' deal features a $37 million signing bonus and $60 million guaranteed in the first three years of the contract.  That guaranteed money can be prorated, reducing his salary cap hit this year to a mere $10.4 million because of a $3 million guaranteed base salary.

Brees' new deal will carry a backloaded salary cap hit over the next five years: $10.4 million this season, $17.4 million in 2013, $18.4 million in 2014, $26.4 million in 2015 and $27.4 million in 2016.

Compared to the franchise tag, Brees will cost just under $6 million less against the Saints' 2012 cap.

Built into the final two years of the deal are injury guarantees that force large amounts of his income that season to be guaranteed shortly after the Super Bowl, forcing the Saints to cut him early in the offseason of 2015 or 2016.  Similar to the situation that Payton Manning forced this past offseason, Brees would then have a better chance to land elsewhere.

Those early-offseason guarantee clauses would cut the contract down to size - a three year, $61 million deal - unless the Saints choose to pick up a $26.4 million cap hit on a 36-year old quarterback.

One key figure to compare the contract to: if Peyton Manning is health in 2013, he'll receive a $40 million guarantee from the Broncos, meaning he'd have $58 million in total guaranteed money.  The Saints beat that number with Brees at $60 million in total guarantees.

Ironically, the total value of Brees' 2006 contract with the Saints?  $60 million in six years.  The Saints roughly doubled his previous contract in total value.

Brees, who never signed his franchise tag tender, had not reported to any offseason activities with the Saints.  Backup QB Chase Daniel led the offense in OTA's and the minicamp, backed up by Sean Canfield and Luke McCown.

Brees wrote on Twitter earlier this afternoon, "Deal is Done!  Love you, Who Dat Nation. See you soon!"

Saints DE Will Smith wrote, "#DREWDAT‬"

Saints LB Chris Chamberlain, an offseason free agent addition, wrote "Congrats to @drewbrees on the new deal! Guess this means I will finally get to meet the guy! ‪#WHODAT‬ Let's get it!!!"

Saints TE Jimmy Graham wrote "Congrats @drewbrees...very happy for you, your family and all the Whodat Nation....let's go get the trophy"

The only unsigned Saint now remains fourth round draft pick WR Nick Toon.

The Saints open training camp on July 24.

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