Once again, Drew Brees is clutch.
The record-setting quarterback agreed to a five-year contract with the New Orleans Saints on Friday, three days ahead of the deadline to come together on a long-term deal.
The contract, first reported by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, is worth $100 million, with $60 million guaranteed, including $40 million in the first season.
Shortly after news broke, Brees confirmed the move, tweeting, “Deal is Done! Love you, Who Dat Nation. See you soon!”
The $20 million average pay per year is the highest in NFL history.
Brees isn't expected to speak with the media until Sunday, though he will speak with WWL-AM tonight at 6 o'clock.
Head coach Sean Payton, who can't speak with Brees because of his season-long suspension by the NFL, called the signing a good day for Saints fans and for the franchise.
"It's great to see what he has done here in six years and get rewarded," Payton said. "He has got a lot of good football left. He has been durable, works extremely hard at it. He's one of those players not affected by the outside things. Some of that is the money, the awards. Those are importnt.
"But I think he's driven in such a unique way. I think it's a good day for the Saints."
Saints owner Tom Benson released a statement after the signing was announced.
"Congratulations are in order for our organization, our city, Drew and Brittany and certainly for Mickey Loomis and his staff for all of the hard work put in to make this possible," Benson's said in the statement. "Now we must turn our focus to getting ready for the start of training camp and to keeping with our goal of being the first team in NFL history to host and play in a Super Bowl."
Added Loomis, "What Drew has accomplished in his time with the Saints, he deserves to be the highest paid player in the league. We are excited to have this deal done and behind us and look forward to the next five years with Drew as our QB."
The Saints, and now Brees, report to camp July 24 with the first practice two days later.
Based on the guarantee of$37 million with $3 million base salary reported by ProFootballTalk.com, Brees’ salary cap hit this season will be $10.4 million as opposed to the $16.3 million he would have cost the team under the franchise tag.
Friday’s contract announcement likely elicited an enormous sigh of relief from New Orleans’ rabid fan base.
It was obvious from Twitter that his teammates were at least as happy as the fans.
Jimmy Graham, one of Brees’ favorite targets, tweeted, “Congrats @drewbrees…very happy for you, your family and all the Whodat Nation…let’s go get the trophy.”
David Thomas, one of Brees’ closest confidantes in the locker room, “So happy for @drewbrees. Hardest worker, best leader, and so humble. A great day for him, his family, the @Saints, and the Whodat Nation!”
Malcolm Jenkins tweeted, “@drewbrees congrats bro... You've changed the game on and off the field!!! No one deserves it more than you... See u on the 24th.”
And Thomas Morstead tweeted, “#WHODAT DREW SIGNED!!! #WHODAT”
Brees, 33, and the Saints had been nearly $1.25 million apart on average annual pay heading into July. As recently as Wednesday, the Associated Press reported the two sides were nearly $10 million apart in guaranteed money.
In 2011, Brees played with no long-term contract guarantee. He ended up breaking Dan Marino’s 27-year-old NFL record for passing yards in a season by throwing for 5,476 yards. His 71.2 completion percentage broke his own record set in 2009.
The Saints signed Brees in 2006 after a tumultuous 2005 for both. New Orleans was coming off the Hurricane Katrina in which it went 3-13. Brees, meanwhile, destroyed his right throwing shoulder while playing for San Diego.
After surgery, he took visits to both Miami and New Orleans, signing ultimately with the Saints after the Dolphins were unsure of Brees’ recovery from the injury.
He led the Saints to an NFC championship game appearance in 2006 and then, in 2009, helped the Saints win their first Super Bowl.
Twice the Saints have won 13 regular season games and, in the past three seasons, have gone 37-11.