NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees and the Saints reached a deal on par with the quarterback's record-setting play, giving New Orleans' fans some news they can celebrate after an offseason rife with turmoil.
The team announced Friday that it had agreed to a five-year contract with Brees. A person familiar with the deal said it's for $100 million, with $60 million guaranteed.
The deal will also pay the quarterback $40 million the first year, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because financial details had not been publicly announced.
Brees posted a note on his Twitter page reading, "Deal is Done! Love you, Who Dat Nation. See you soon!"
He had been tagged as the Saints' exclusive franchise player and could not negotiate with other teams.
Had a deal not been reached, the tender for a quarterback was worth $16.3 million. Brees would have had to play for that amount or hold out for a better one-year deal, which would have left his long-term future in New Orleans uncertain.
Brees skipped the Saints' offseason practices while holding out for his new long-term contract, which now gives him the highest average annual pay ($20 million) in NFL history. Buffalo defensive end Mario Williams also has a $100 million contract, but for six years.
Now Brees is set to report for the opening of Saints training camp on July 24, a needed dose of good news for a club whose offseason has been plagued by the bounty scandal that resulted in the season-long suspensions of head coach Sean Payton and linebacker Jonathan Vilma, among other sanctions.
"Congratulations are in order for our organization, our city, Drew and (his wife) Brittany and certainly for (general manager) Mickey Loomis and his staff," Saints owner Tom Benson said in a written statement. "Now we must turn our focus to getting ready for the start of training camp and to keeping with our goal of being the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl on its own field." New Orleans is hosting the Super Bowl this February.
Brees' teammates quickly took to the social media website Twitter to congratulate him.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins wrote "Congrats bro ... You've changed the game on and off the field!!! No one deserves it more than you ... See u on the 24th."
Tight end Jimmy Graham tweeted: "Congrats (at)drewbrees ... very happy for you, your family and all the Whodat Nation .... let's go get the trophy."
Even LSU coach Les Miles chimed in, tweeting: "It's a great day for New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. Congrats to both Drew Brees and the Saints on reaching a deal. Who Dat!"
The contract, which includes a $37 million signing bonus, also gives the Saints more flexibility under the NFL's salary cap. Because bonuses count against the cap on a pro-rated basis over the life of the contract — $7.4 million per year in Brees' case — the quarterback will cost the club only $10.4 million against the cap in 2012. That gives Loomis nearly $6 million more in wiggle room to manage the entire roster than if Brees had played for the franchise tag.
His cap number will rise well above $20 million by the final years of his deal, but Loomis will at least have more time to plan for that, and the current salary cap of about $120 million is expected to have risen by then.
New Orleans had designated Brees, 33, its franchise player in March after the club was unable to reach a new long-term extension with Brees before his previous six-year, $60 million contract expired.
Brees, however, was steadfast in not wanting to play for a one-year deal.
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