It took longer than expected, but Drew Brees has a new deal with the Saints.
Per multiple reports, the veteran quarterback has agreed to a two-year, $50 million deal to remain with the team he's played for since 2006.
Brees had been contacted by the Vikings on Monday, according to NFL Network, which may have helped hasten negotiations with the Saints. New Orleans would have incurred $18 million in dead money to its salary cap while losing the best player in franchise history had Brees not agreed to a new deal by Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.
Observers noticed that Brees was present at the emotional retirement announcement of tackle Zach Strief. Brees was visibly moved at the ceremony as Strief lavished praise on the future Hall-of-Famer.
The belief was that even if Brees and the team were close to a deal that it would not have been announced Monday so as not to detract from Strief.
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The Saints had urgency to get a deal done, otherwise by early Wednesday afternoon they would have $18 million in dead money due against the salary cap and Brees would be free to sign with another team.
Brees, 39, is an 11-time Pro Bowler. Barring injury, he will pass Brett Favre and Peyton Manning early this season and will become the NFL's all-time leader for passing yards. Brees currently has 70,445, which is just 1,495 behind Manning's standard.
However Brees doesn't have to do it all for the Saints anymore. His 4,334 yards last year were the fewest of his 12 seasons in New Orleans as running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram shouldered more of the offensive load. The team's resurgent defense should make the NFC South champs a Super Bowl contender in 2018.