The Who Dat Nation can finally breathe. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints agreed to a five-year contract worth $100 million on Friday, as first reported by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, making the 33-year-old quarterback the highest-paid player in NFL history.
Brees later confirmed the deal on Twitter, saying, "Deal is Done! Love you, Who Dat Nation. See you soon!"
The average salary of $20 million surpassed the $19.2 million per year that the Denver Broncos gave quarterback Peyton Manning earlier this year. ESPN reported the deal is worth $40 million in the first year, with $60 million guaranteed in the first three years.
The deal is not expected to cause any salary-cap problems for the Saints in 2012. Brees was already counting against the Saints' cap at a salary of $16.4 million this year (the size of his one-year franchise tag offer). And the team could easily structure his long-term deal in a way that keeps his cap figure the same or lower.
The deal came two days before Monday's deadline for franchise-tagged players to reach long-term contracts. And it came just 11 days before the Saints are scheduled to report to training camp. Brees missed the Saints' entire workout program during the high-stakes contract standoff, which lingered for months until the deadline pressure finally kicked in.
Although the contract talks were intense, they aren't expected to cause any lingering resentment from either side. This was a win-win deal that both sides were always hoping to reach, even if they squabbled over a few million dollars here and there. Expect a lot of positive comments from both sides today and a lot of optimism about the 2012 season.
Brees can now turn his focus toward following up one of the greatest statistical seasons in franchise history. He helped raise his historical market value last season by throwing for a NFL-record 5,476 yards while leading the Saints to a 13-3 record.
Stay tuned for further details and reaction.