It long has been thought that quarterback Drew Brees would sit out if he and the Saints didn’t come to agreement on a long-term contract.
But Tuesday during an appearance on ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Brees said that isn’t the case.
“I would never sit out a football season,” Brees told the host. “I love the game too much. I love my team too much. But obviously, there's a lot that can happen between now and then. So, let's just hope we can get a long-term deal done.”
Brees and the Saints have been attempting to hammer out a long-term deal for nearly a year. The two sides opened dialogue prior to the 2011 season but halted discussions to focus on the current season.
By February, it was becoming apparent that Brees and his agent Tom Condon weren’t close with the Saints and general manager Mickey Loomis.
Talks resumed this summer and Brees characterized the tenor as being “fine.”
“We're very much in discussions,” Brees said. “Obviously, both sides (are) taking it very seriously and hoping that we can get a long-term deal done sooner than later.
Later, he added, “I think over the last month or so, it's picked up a little bit, you know. There was a dry spell there for awhile. Obviously, a lot of distractions, a lot of things going on this offseason, but I think both sides are confident that we can get something done here hopefully sooner than later.”
New Orleans has until July 16 to come up with a long-term agreement with Brees. Should they fail, he can’t be re-signed long-term until after the 2012 season.
Training camp begins on July 27 and the first preseason game is Aug. 5 in the Hall of Fame game against Arizona.
But while Brees has been in the system for six years, this will be his first without Sean Payton on the sideline. And he hasn’t spent any time with his offensive teammates honing routes this offseason because of the contract dispute.
Those, he said, are reasons as much any to get into training camp and not holdout.
“I think it's extremely important, especially the fact that I haven't had a chance to be with my team this offseason,” Brees said. “And even though it's the same system, the same offense, a lot of the same personnel, still every year you kind of go back to the drawing board. You need that time together to kind of recreate the chemistry re-establish your identity.
“You're always evolving as an offense, there's always new things you're installing, incorporating into your offense, so the more time you can have together prior to the start of the season, the better.”