New Orleans can relax. Drew Brees will be at quarterback for years to come.
The extended game of contract chicken finally ended with the Saints making their All-Pro quarterback the highest-paid player in the history of professional football.
“What Drew has accomplished in his time with the Saints, he deserves to be the highest paid player in the league,” said Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis in a statement released by the team. “We are excited to have this deal done and behind us and look forward to the next five years with Drew as our QB.”
Brees, who broke Dan Marino’s single-season passing-yardage record in 2011, agreed to a five-year, $100 million contract with $60 million guaranteed in the first three years, and a stunning $40 million in the first year of the deal. The contract keeps Brees in New Orleans through his 36th birthday.
Had Brees not agreed with the Saints in a long-term contract, he would have played through the 2012 season as an exclusive-rights franchise player, making $16.37 million this season.
Brees, who will be the center of the offense especially with head coach Sean Payton suspended for the season in the bounty scandal, had threatened to hold out through training camp if a longer-term agreement was not struck.
In the end, the Saints had no choice but to come through, because losing Brees would have been a death blow. In 2011, he set NFL single-season records with 468 completions, 5,476 yards passing and a 71.2 completion percentage. The Saints set an all-time single-season high in total offensive yards with 7,474.