Friday the 13th has turned into a lucky day for quarterback Drew Brees. The Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLIV has reached an agreement with the New Orleans Saints on a five-year, $100-million contract which guarantees a record $60 million and makes him the highest-paid player in the history of the National Football League.
According to league, union and team sources, the $60-million figure is considered “guaranteed” even though there are ways, considered by most observers to be unlikely for the Saints to take, in which the team can get out of paying that amount. Nevertheless, reports say the accord is front-loaded, with Brees earning $40 million in 2012 alone.
The team reached the deal Friday morning with Brees’ agent, Tom Condon. Soon afterwards, Brees posted a “Deal is Done!” message to his Twitter account around 1 p.m. Eastern time.
“I appreciate the diligence and steadfast efforts by both sides to get this deal done,” Brees told ESPN. “I love my organization, team, and the city of New Orleans. Thank you especially to (owners) Gayle and Tom Benson for the opportunity. Now I need to go earn it.”
(When this story was posted, the deal had not yet been officially announced publicly by the team.)
If the two sides had not been able to come to an agreement, the tendering contract for the quarterback would have been worth $16.371 million; Brees would have to play for that amount or hold out. Stories had circulated recently that Brees was not willing to sign the tendering deal and would have withheld his services from the club by not attending training camp.
In addition to the Super Bowl win, Brees posted the single-season passing yards record in 2011 with 5,476 yards, eclipsing Miami Dolphins pivot Dan Marino’s previous record of 5,084 yards set in 1984. Brees holds down two of the top five all-time spots for most passing yards in a single season: he had also thrown for 5,069 yards in 2008.
Brees and the Saints will go into 2012 without head coach Sean Payton, who was suspended for the entire season by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as a result of an alleged “bounty” program where opposing players had been targeted for hard hits and injuries by Saints players in return for cash payments.
Former FBI director Louis Freeh, who this week issued a scathing report on the Penn State University sexual-assault scandal centering around former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, will now investigate the bounty allegations and also wiretapping apparently authorized by general manager Mickey Loomis, who has also been suspended by the league for the first eight games of 2012.