METAIRIE, La. – Drew Brees doesn’t see his $100 million contract as more pressure to perform.
Instead, he sees it as a responsibility.
“To me it’s business as usual,” Brees said Tuesday. “I’ll be honest. You might look at me and think I’m crazy, especially after the way the whole contract process went this entire offseason, the ups and downs and how it was dragged out to the last minute. \
“But for me, I could not wait to get back here, to get back to work, to get back to playing football, to get back being around the guys in the locker room, on the field, with the fans and just soaking it all in again and enjoying the moment and thinking about each day trying to improve and helping to fulfill my role to take this team where we want to go.”
That responsibility will loom even larger this year.
The Saints, including Brees, reported to training camp Tuesday and did so with one large part missing.
Sean Payton, the team’s head coach for the past six seasons, is suspended for the entire year for what the NFL said was a role in an alleged three-year bounty program.
Brees said he and his teammates will be careful not to try to fill Payton’s void by putting too much pressure on them. Rather, it will be a collective effort built on trust and history that will get the Saints through what they’ll face this season.
“The fact of the matter that the pieces have been put in place in this organization since ’06 to withstand anything that would come out way,” Brees said.
Still, Brees’ return after an offseason of negotiations is a lift for the Saints.
When the team hits the field for the first time on Thursday, Brees will be there.
When he wasn’t filming commercials or shilling for his restaurants, Brees was spending time with his personal trainer and others throwing footballs. He won’t be on a pitch count to open training camp and expects to hit it full speed so he can catch up with what he missed out on.
One thing he won’t do, however, is try to match his historic 2011 season, one in which he set the NFL record for passing yards.
“I’ve been down that road,” Brees said. “I don’t do that. I do make this goal every camp, every season and that is I want to be a little better this year than I was last year. You can’t always measure that with statistics.”