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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 without a contract.
That's obviously no longer an issue.
In fact, Brees' new average salary of $20 million surpassed the $19.2 million per year that the 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.
Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio has confirmed those numbers, adding that there are $22 million more in “rolling” guarantees as the contract unfolds.
According to New Orleans Times-Picayune staffer Mike Triplett, 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 the $16.4 million franchise tender. 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 contract standoff, which lingered for months until the deadline pressure finally kicked in.
Although the contract talks were intense, Triplett reports they aren't expected to cause any lingering resentment from either side.
As Triplett put it, "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."
Brees can now turn his focus toward following up one of the greatest statistical seasons ever.
In case you somehow missed it, he shattered Dan Marino's 27-year-old mark by passing for 5,476 yards and his 468 completions broke Manning's 2010 record of 450. Brees finished the season completing 71.6 percent of his passes, breaking his own 2009 NFL record (70.6). He also surpassed 300 yards passing for seven straight games and 13 times during the season, both beating league marks he already held.
The Saints also set several single-season records, including offensive yards with 7,474 and first downs with 416.
And with all the off-season issues (not related to this contract) -- ranging from "Bountygate" to the year-long suspension of head coach Sean Payton and all the way to the free-agent departure of Robert Meachem -- that could cause problems, having Brees in training camp is a major step in getting the franchise back on track.