Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
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METAIRIE, La. ― Drew Brees said he would be “beyond stunned” if he weren’t with the New Orleans Saints in the coming years.
And he hopes questions about his contract can be answered sooner rather than later.
“I would even say that between now and free agency I’d really like to have something done,” Brees said Friday in a conference call with local media. “Obviously there’s a lot that goes into it. It’s not as easy as some people think it is. I just think there’s a lot of factors, variables, things to consider.
“The fact is we’re all very confident that a deal will get done sooner than later.”
Brees echoed coach Sean Payton’s sentiments that shocking wouldn’t go far enough in describing the thought that he won’t be with the Saints in the future.
“I would be beyond stunned,” Brees said. “I would agree with coach.”
But it won’t be easy for the Saints to keep Brees and the teammates that just set an NFL record for most offense in a single season.
Brees’ contract and likely record pay-day is complicated by free agency and who the Saints must try to retain, including key contributors receiver Marques Colston and All Pro left guard Carl Nicks.
In six seasons with New Orleans, Brees has thrown for 28,394 yards, 201 touchdowns and 93 interceptions. No other quarterback has thrown for more yards during the same period.
His 71.2 percent completion percentage this year topped his own NFL record from 2009 and his 5,476 yards passing this year broke Dan Marino’s 27-year-old record for 5,084 yards in a season.
He’s expected to sign a contract that would pay him around $18 million per year, putting him in the ballpark of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
The new contract could potentially hamstring the Saints, painting them into a corner where they’re paying their franchise quarterback by cutting their ability to pay others.
However, Brees said he’d like to do what he can to keep the team together in its current incarnation.
“My No. 1 priority, and it always has been, is keeping our team together and making sure we have the right guys in the right position to make a run at this for a long time,” Brees said. “Now, obviously my job is not head coach and my job is not general manager. I feel like we’ve got two very capable individuals in those positions. But I think we all kind of work together on this thing.”
Brees added, “Put it this way – I’m not worried one bit about my contract or our ability to keep guys at key positions.”
Realistically, though, that’ll be hard.
In addition to Colston and Nicks (both of whom are expected to get big contracts, also), the Saints have others likely on their wish list, including receiver Robert Meachem, cornerback Tracy Porter and linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar among 16 unrestricted free agents.
And that’s what Brees said makes losing to San Francisco even harder.
“It’s not because the season is over and you don’t get to play anymore games or you know you’re not going to win a championship that year,” Brees said. “The biggest sadness comes in because you’re looking around the room and you know that there’s guys you’ve become very close to that you might not be playing with anymore. That’s the most hurtful thing about it all, the thing we all have to deal with.
“Especially as I get older, I appreciate those relationships and the experiences we’ve all had together. But that’s life and we all just have to be thankful for the time that we do have together.”