Exclusive: Saints GM pledges to give Brees extension, free up cap space
New Orleans Saints fans can rest easy — Drew Brees isn’t going anywhere for at least the next two seasons, and probably longer.
So says Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, who plans to get Brees signed to a new deal as his star quarterback prepares to enter the final year of a five-year, $100 million contract signed in 2012.
An extension of Brees’ current deal would give the Saints salary-cap relief. Brees has a cap number of $30 million for the 2016 season, which will account for almost 20 percent of the team’s overall space. The cap number for each team, which is still being formulated by the NFL and its players union, is projected between $152 million and $155 million.
Loomis, though, told co-host Bill Polian and me Tuesday night on SiriusXM NFL Radio that "it’s not mandatory we do something with Drew" before the free-agent signing period begins next month, even though New Orleans is perilously close to the cap limit. Loomis said the bigger impetus for striking a deal is tethering Brees to the franchise beyond this season.
"We want Drew to be our quarterback this year, next year and the foreseeable future," Loomis said. "I know he feels like he’s got more years left in him. I would say we feel that way as well.
"We’ll get that worked out in a way that helps our team and obviously fits in with what he wants to do."
That being said, an agreement isn’t imminent. Loomis said that while he has expressed his desires to Brees, negotiations haven’t begun yet with agent Tom Condon.
Although he turned 37 in January, Brees showed no signs of slowing down in 2015. He missed one game after injuring his right (throwing) shoulder — which caused an initial scare because it was surgically repaired a decade earlier — but returned to complete 68.3 percent of his passes for a league-high 4,870 yards with 32 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions.
Since signing with New Orleans as a free agent in 2006, Brees has passed for at least 4,350 yards and 26 touchdowns in each season. He also led the 2009 Saints to the franchise’s only Super Bowl title.
The Saints guaranteed $10.85 million of Brees’ $20 million salary last week as part of a clause in his contract.
New Orleans has finished 7-9 and failed to make the playoffs each of the past two seasons primarily because of defensive deficiencies. While describing that unit as a "work in progress," Loomis hopes victories in three of the final four games last season are an indication the Saints are back on the upswing.
"We’re pretty excited about some of the younger players that we’ve acquired over the last couple years," Loomis said. "I believe we’ve played more first-year and rookie players than anyone else in the league this past year in terms of number of plays. The bulk of that is on defense.
"We’ve got some work to do. We’ve got to improve our pass rush and front seven. That will be one of the goals we have in this offseason —- to get some help up front so we can climb defensively and help out our offense."