Drew Brees finalized his contract extension with the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday. Everyone leaves a winner and here’s why.
After much posturing and several negotiation tactics being played, the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees finally came to terms. On Wednesday, the two parties agreed to a contract extension for the veteran quarterback. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Brees will now make just over $20 million in 2016 and $24.5 million for the 2017 season. All of that money is guaranteed, but he’ll be off of the books in New Orleans beyond next season.
Considering that Brees was initially looking for a long-term extension, that they settled at this point is quite surprising. However, what’s not surprising is that the deal got done at all. Brees had given his longtime employer a beginning-of-season cutoff date. So to avoid playing with this hanging over their head all season, it makes sense that they’d work to make this happen on Wednesday.
However, there are always those who benefit and those who don’t from a deal like this. Some players get the raw end of a deal while others look at it with all smiles. It’s never just a black-and-white situation when it comes to transactions in the NFL. And the Drew Brees extension isn’t the exception to that rule.
With that in mind, there were both those who benefitted and those who didn’t from Brees’ contract extension getting done. That’s what we’ll take a look at here. These are the winners and losers from Drew Brees’ contract extension with the Saints.
Aug 26, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton sits with owners Gayle Benson and Tom Benson and general manager Mickey Loomis before a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Winner: The Saints’ Future
By no fault of Brees, the Saints have been an absolute wreck in recent seasons. Sure, their offense hasn’t truly faltered and they can put points on the board. However, their biggest issue has been making sure their opponents don’t put a bigger number up. Their defense has been lackluster, to put it kindly, and it has indubitably cost them. However, the Brees extension in its current form changes that in a great way for New Orleans.
The biggest contributing factor in the struggles of the Saints and their defense has simply been their lack of money. No, they haven’t needed to go out and make huge signings. However, failed big-time contracts like that of Jarius Byrd and Junior Galette have left them with a ton of albatrosses and dead money on the books. Thus, they’ve been left without any room to truly improve, even through quality mid-level free agency signings.
However, this extension for Brees provides a light at the end of the tunnel. Rather than having to sign him to a long-term extension, they’ve got him only until 2017. That means that they’ll have an extra $24+ million in cap room freeing up heading into the 2018 offseason. For the Saints looking to get back into Super Bowl contention, this deal makes that seemingly more plausible sooner.
Aug 26, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) reacts after a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of a preseason game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Loser: Drew Brees
Through a certain lens, you could look at Drew Brees as a winner coming out of this contract extension. Not only is he going to be getting paid a rich contract at 38 years old next season, but he gets to stay in the city that he built his legacy in to do so. However, that lens is covered by the fact that the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback essentially compromised the exact thing he was looking for in this deal.
When all of the reports were coming out and information was being leaked about the negotiations, there was one constant. Brees was looking to secure his longevity with the Saints and of his career by signing a long-term extension. That’s where the much-debated “wanting to play for five more years” narrative came from. However, that’s not the result of this deal at all. With this extension in place, his NFL future extends only to 2017.
Considering that Brees has shown little-to-no decline in his production despite the Saints’ struggles, you have to imagine that he’ll sign somewhere again after the 2017 season. Barring a catastrophic drop-off, that seems inevitable. However, the fact that it’s not written in ink with the Saints after this extension isn’t good for Brees. Thus, he winds up coming out of this situation as a loser.
Nov 15, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Washington Redskins in the first quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Winners: Saints Young Receivers
If you’re expecting to see familiar faces playing receiver for the Saints in 2016, you might be sorely mistaken. It’s a new guard coming in at the position, headline by players like Brandon Cooks, Willie Snead, Michael Thomas, and Brandon Coleman. The talent of this group certainly isn’t in question, but that’s not the only thing that you can be sure of. You can also bank on the fact that they’re going to benefit from having Drew Brees stick around for another year.
Brees has always had a knack for being able to make his receiving core look great. That’s the benefit of playing with an all-time great quarterback in a high-octane offense and passing attack. Thus, you have to think that players like Cooks and Snead in particular can put up big numbers. Considering that they both could be entering free agency in the next couple years, that’s huge for them. Whether they go on to re-sign with New Orleans or land elsewhere, having Brees will help those players get paid on the market.
As for players like Thomas and Coleman that are still works-in-progress, Brees helps them as well. While you could make the argument that playing with a quarterback of that caliber will spoil them, it’ll also help them properly develop. They’ll see first-hand what it’s like to be a part of a successful, thriving offense. Moreover, these players will get the chance to get the reps in this offense that will put them on the path to success.
Aug 11, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Garrett Grayson (18) in action against the New England Patriots during the first half during a preseason NFL game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Loser: Garrett Grayson
One of the casualties leading up to the extension for Brees was that the Saints cut second-year quarterback Garrett Grayson. Grayson was a third-round pick by New Orleans just one year ago, but he was let go after this new deal. Considering that he essentially lost his job with the Saints, how can you not look at this situation and think that Grayson lost big time in the end?
Coming out of Colorado State, Grayson wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. Even in preseason play against second and third units, his numbers were nothing to write home about. However, there’s a reason that the Saints thought enough of his talent to select him with the No. 75 overall pick in 2015. With the proper development, there’s reason to believe he could at least be a quality NFL backup. Thus, the Saints are somewhat secondary losers when it comes to Grayson.
However, Grayson still winds up the bigger loser of the two. Sure, he’ll probably land somewhere else in the league, likely on a practice squad or as a third-stringer. However, he no longer gets to work under the tutelage of Brees and seem like a potential heir to the throne in New Orleans.
NEW ORLEANS, LA – SEPTEMBER 01: General manager Mickey Loomis of the New Orleans Saints talks to owners Tom Benson and Gayle Benson during a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 1, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Winner: Mickey Loomis
Remember when we previously discussed the Saints being disappointing in recent years? You’ll recall that the primary reason as to why was because of decisions from the front office. Well any finger-pointers out there had their digits directed towards general manager Mickey Loomis. After all, he’s been the guy in charge of all of this and the one making all of these moves. Thus, it stands to reason that his seat might be getting warmer. At the very least, the burners beneath it were prepared to be lit.
Signing Brees to this deal, though, put Loomis in the good graces of the Saints in a big way. As stated, this is a contract that’s wholly favorable to New Orleans and the future of the franchise. However, the extension also exemplifies Loomis’ ability to win in a tough situation. This isn’t the type of deal Brees wanted—it’s the type the Saints wanted. Subsequently, they were able to come out of this with their desired result.
Another losing season in New Orleans could very well put Loomis on the hot seat once again and understandably so. However, this deal for now has him looking much better than he was before. Even if short-lived, that makes him a winner initially. Now he just has to hope he can keep moving to make sure he stays in that position.