METAIRIE, La. — Drew Brees stood in front of his locker at the Saints’ Metairie training facility Monday, a gaggle of reporters and TV cameras surrounding him for one last time this season.
And he made one thing clear as New Orleans heads into an offseason of salary cap questions and free agency conundrums – he’s willing to do whatever it takes to help the Saints win if they can’t find another way around his contract.
“Listen, I get compensated very well,” Brees said. “I don’t take that for granted for one second. But I play this game because I love this game, I love this locker room and I love the opportunity to win a championship.”
His eighth season in New Orleans now concluded, his cap number will rise to more than $18 million in 2014.
But the Saints, expected to be more than $12 million over the projected $126.6 million cap according to ESPN.com, have some key unrestricted free agents to figure out what to do with.
The biggest is tight end Jimmy Graham, who will command top dollar regardless of the position he’s viewed as playing. If the Saints franchise tag him, they’ll have to decide whether he’s a tight end or a receiver, a designation that carries a several-million dollar difference.
Since coming to New Orleans, however, Brees said he hasn’t seen the salary cap inhibit the team from doing what it needs to to get players signed.
“I don’t think our team has ever, since I’ve been here, been in a situation where they’re not going to do what they feel like they need in order to field the next team,” Brees said.
That could include coming to him in the next few months to discuss several options for helping relieve the team some of its cap issues, either by converting some money to bonus or lengthening his five-year deal, which just concluded its second season.
“Whatever I can do to help this team – if they want to come to me and extend me even further, that’d be great,” Brees said. “Listen, there are so many possibilities as to what can happen here.”
He just finished a season in which he threw for more than 5,000 yards for the third straight time and fourth overall. He was one touchdown pass short of three-straight seasons with 40 scoring strikes. And the Saints offense ranked No. 4 in the NFL in total offense.
Brees said there’s plenty more in his tank.
“I felt as good at times this year as I’ve felt – throwing the football, seeing things, processing things,” Brees said. “So, that obviously got me excited, just feeling like I can do this for a long time, play at a high level for a long time now.”