In what has been a tumultuous offseason for the New Orleans Saints, the franchise finally got perhaps their last major issue out of the way. Amidst all of the penalties levied by the NFL surrounding the Saints’ bounty program, the constant chatter of something that could negate some of the bad news was the signing of quarterback Drew Brees.
Yet, it took until the end of last week for that to happen. The Saints and Brees agreed to terms on a five-year, $100 million dollar deal that guarantees Brees a whopping $40 million for the upcoming season. The deal makes Brees the highest-paid player in the NFL, though he says that wasn’t as much of a sticking point as some portrayed it as the talks dragged on.
Drew Brees joined WWL in New Orleans with Bobby Hebert, Kristian Garic and Saints offensive lineman Zach Strief to discuss his reaction to his new deal, the magnitude of the contract, going through the drawn-out process, having that process be so public, if the deal is the next step in the Saints moving forward and being in this spot after having surgery on his throwing shoulder just a few seasons ago.
When you got the big news of the new deal, who delivered it and what was your reaction?:
“I was actually working out this morning, early, and I get back in my car and my agent … has a text message that says, ‘Call me ASAP.’ So I call him and we talk through everything and the next thing you know, it’s done. It’s interesting because obviously it’s been a long process to get to this point and once we were here, it was — bam, bam, bam — and then we were done. Obviously we were all in position to get the deal done and I couldn’t be happier or more excited. … I’m just excited to get things started and get back with all the guys in the locker room.”
What does it say to you that the Saints will pay you more than any player in NFL history?:
“That part of it, my face is turning red right now. When you talk about the type of contracts that are involved in our league, we played the game of football since we were kids because we love the game of football. … It’s the most popular sport in America, with some of the greatest fan bases, including ours. Just to really sit down and think about the opportunity we all have to do this is truly a blessing. I know I take it as a huge responsibility, as do all the guys on our team. I feel like, with a contract like this, people can say, ‘They’re paying you what you’re earned or what you deserved,’ but in my mind, I always feel like I’ve got to go out every day and earn it and show people why you’re at that level. It’s not to put added pressure on myself … but it’s just about representing our team and our city the right way.”
How hard was it for you to go through the saga of getting a deal done?:
“I think the term that was thrown around a lot was being the highest-paid player and I had to be the highest-paid player in history or what have you. I think there’s so much speculation that goes around throughout this process. I think everyone wants to be, from a media standpoint, who is breaking the story first. … Unfortunately, a lot of stuff comes out that’s not entirely true. … I can tell you, from the start of this negotiation, I have not thought once about, ‘I want to be the highest-paid guy.’ … It was more about trying to look purely, objectively, at the numbers the last decades for top-1o quarterbacks — where it’s been and where it’s going.”
You’re kind of a private guy. Was it hard to have this all be so public?:
“I think it stems from our sport being so popular and because so many fans love the NFL. … Obviously the media now, it’s a 15-minute media cycle. It’s online, on the radio, on TV, and it’s just constant. So you can’t avoid it. There’s always going to be things that are out there. … I think you just have to understand it’s part of the deal, part of the process.”
Does your deal close the door on a tumultuous offseason for the Saints and set the wheels in motion to move forward?:
“Yeah, I mean, here’s the thing: It’d be very easy for us to make excuses after what the organization and everyone has been through this offseason. That’s never the approach that we have taken nor will take. … I think we’ve built up quite a mindset of, ‘We will overcome anything that’s put before us.’ We have for the last six years and we will continue to. … It just gives us more motivation to go out and want to play well and want to win.”
When you’re having surgery on your throwing shoulder a few years ago, could you ever imagine being in this spot today?:
“No, I certainly wasn’t looking that far ahead. I was just trying to take it day by day and really just get to a point where I could throw a football again. I’m not trying to over-dramatize or anything like that, but that was a scary time. … Things like that happen in your life and you learn from them and they make you stronger. Had I never had that injury, I never would have ended up in New Orleans … and never would have imagined the run we’ve had so far.”