Quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints agreed on a new five-year contract three days before the National Football League’s single-season passing leader would have been forced to sign a one-year tender or sit out the season.
Brees, 33, and the Saints both confirmed the agreement on their Twitter accounts yesterday without mentioning financial details. The five-year deal is worth about $100 million, ESPN reported, with a guaranteed $40 million in the first season and $60 million overall.
“What Drew has accomplished in his time with the Saints, he deserves to be the highest-paid player in the league,” General Manager Mickey Loomis said in a statement released by the Saints. “We are excited to have this deal done and behind us and look forward to the next five years with Drew as our quarterback.”
Had no agreement been reached by 4 p.m. New York time on July 16, Brees’s only option to play this season would have been under the franchise tag of $16.4 million. He didn’t intend to report to training camp without a long-term contract but wouldn’t have sat out any regular-season games, ESPN said, citing people close to the quarterback.
Brees was selected in the second round of the 2001 draft by the San Diego Chargers, and signed with the Saints prior to the 2006 season. He led New Orleans to the Super Bowl title following the 2009 season and was named Most Valuable Player of the championship game, passing for 288 yards and two touchdowns.
He has led the league in passing three times, including an NFL-record 5,476 yards last season; in passing touchdowns three times, and passer rating once.
“Congratulations are in order for our organization,” Saints owner Tom Benson said in an e-mailed statement. “Now we must turn our focus to getting ready for the start of training camp and to keeping with our goal of being the first team in NFL history to host and play in a Super Bowl.”
New Orleans will host the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, 2013.
The Saints were the subject of an unprecedented level of suspensions and fines this offseason after the NFL accused New Orleans coaches and players of a plot to pay bonuses for hits that hurt opposing players, including Pro Bowl quarterbacks Brett Favre and Kurt Warner.
Coach Sean Payton and Pro Bowl linebacker Jonathan Vilma were suspended for the 2012 season, while defensive lineman Will Smith was suspended for four games. General Manager Mickey Loomis was given an eight-game suspension, and the team was fined $500,000 and stripped of second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013.