After speculation that the quarterback would sit out training camp, the New Orleans Saints have signed Drew Brees. According to ESPN, Brees and the team have agreed on a five-year deal worth $100 million that includes a $40 million paycheck in the first year alone. Even though Brees has had injury trouble in the past and will be almost 40 when his contract expires, it's a great deal for the Saints.
Brees, who led the franchise to its first Super Bowl in 2009 and was named the MVP of that game, had previously threatened to sit out camp altogether if he wasn't given a better offer than the one-year franchise tag the Saints had tendered. It was a move that would have deemed the Saints rudderless after coach Sean Payton was suspended for the year in lieu of the bountygate scandal. Brees is considered by many to be almost an on-field coach of the team as well as one of the best leaders in the game.
I appreciate the diligence and steadfast efforts by both sides to get this deal done, Brees said to ESPN. I love my organization, team, and the city of New Orleans...Now I need to go earn it.
The big paycheck for Brees almost never came to fruition. If a deal wasn't signed by both parties on Monday by 4 pm EST he would have had to play out the season for the $16 million check the franchise tag would have afforded. Brees had previously stated he wouldn't sit out any time in the regular season due to the contract dispute.
Last season Brees, who is 33 years old, broke Dan Marino's single season passing record with 468 completions and 5,476 passing yards. Those numbers were good enough to lead the Saints' to set a record for the NFL's highest total offensive yards ever. Even if the Saints only initially wanted to sign him to a one year deal worth a fraction of the $60 million or so he's now guaranteed, they made the right decision.
Next season, Peyton Manning will make $18 million in his first season with the Denver Broncos, according to Spotrac. That's obviously less than was Brees is slated to make but Manning is a quarterback who's had four more neck surgeries than Brees. Even when Manning was at the top of his game, though, he made an average of $14 million with the Saints and that's without the numbers Brees just put up.
Speaking of future Hall-of-Famers New England quarterback Tom Brady signed a four year contract in 2010 worth $72 million, almost fifty of which is guaranteed. That's averages out to be less than the $20 million Brees just signed, but the Saints are hardly in a position of strength when it comes to public opinion.
As quarterbacks become more important and salaries continue to inflate, the Saints were smart to grab Brees before alienating him even further than they did with the franchise tag. Even if $100 million over 5 years seems crazy now, the price is right.