METAIRIE, La. — Drew Brees just led the New Orleans Saints to another big victory.
The Saints deserve congratulations because they essentially “won” their contract standoff with Brees on Wednesday.
They got exactly what they wanted by limiting his extension to just one year for a fully guaranteed $24.25 million, according to league sources. The extension takes Brees through the end of the 2018 season. The Saints got to lock up their Hall of Fame quarterback for a little while longer, but they didn’t have to commit to the 37-year-old beyond 2017.
Brees, meanwhile, deserves a ton of kudos for playing ball instead of playing hardball.
Instead of maxing out his value — which could have been enormous if he hit the open market next March — Brees left money on the table and turned this deal into a win-win.
“I plan to play for longer than two years, so yeah, I think my mindset going into this was to be able to secure a deal that would take me for as long as I plan on playing,” Brees admitted Wednesday. “But this is what was in the best interest of the team. And so that’s why it was a two-year deal [one year left on his current contract plus the extension].”
The deal is a “win” for Brees, too, for a few reasons.
First, he got fair market value for an elite quarterback — whether you want to consider it a one-year, $24.25 million extension or a two-year deal worth $44.25 million.
Brees is also betting on himself — because he is scheduled to hit the open market again in 2018, when he turns 39. (And who knows, maybe he will be ready to bail out then if the Saints don’t get things turned around).
Brees has insisted repeatedly that he plans to keep playing at a high level into his 40s. And if he keeps playing near his current level, teams will probably be just as willing to back up those money trucks two years from now.
And I’ll probably implore the Saints to re-sign him again, just as I did this offseason.
This is the Saints’ 50th year of existence — and they’ve had exactly one Hall of Fame quarterback during those five decades. They were wise not to push him out of the building.
I loved defensive end Cameron Jordan’s reaction Wednesday when he was asked if it would be hard to be in the running without Brees.
“We don’t have to worry about that, do we?” Jordan said.
“I’ve come a long way,” Goff told reporters. “I feel good with where I’m at.”
But Goff finished the preseason completing only 22-of-49 passes for 232 yards, with two touchdowns, two interceptions, two fumbles and four sacks.
The 21-year-old had two drives against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1, the first ending in an interception and the second ending in a sack. His first two drives against the Kansas City Chiefs ended with a lost fumble and a near-fumble sack, but Goff showed flashes of promise in the second half, which culminated in the game-winning touchdown drive. In Week 3, against the reigning Super Bowl champion Broncos in Denver, Goff was up-and-down throughout, a handful of impressive throws sprinkled in with some errant ones. Then came Week 4, which quickly turned sour.
“He is much better now than he was before,” Fisher stressed. “He is comfortable and understands things. He has progressed, so we are a lot further along than when we started.”
That doesn’t say much about where it all began.
In his four games, Goff faced 21 third downs in which he did not hand the ball off to a running back. He converted only four of them. Five others ended in either an interception, a sack or a fumble. Often the game seemed a little bit too fast, which was perhaps to be expected for a rookie quarterback who needed to learn how to take snaps from under center and call plays from the huddle.
Perhaps Goff will one day live up to his promise, but the preseason finale was definitive proof that he is not yet ready.
Now there’s no telling when we’ll see Goff in a game again.
Goff said he will take “the good things I did and all of the stuff I can learn from” in hopes of building on his first preseason as a professional.
“Obviously there’s a lot of both. I was very happy with the growth I’ve been able to make mentally, physically, everything. Just how comfortable I feel now as opposed to the beginning of training camp. Just continue to build off of that and continue to build that confidence.”