In a time of turmoil for the New Orleans organization, the Saints brass manage to take the first—and necessary—step in righting their ship. The Saints reached an agreement with quarterback Drew Brees on a 5-year, $100-million deal. Brees will earn $40 million in the first year of his deal.
While Field and Court criticized Brees in the past for failing to reach a deal with the Saints prior to last season only to complain this offseason that he doesn't yet have a deal, it appears that Brees played his cards well. In fact, Brees has always played his cards well, even when the deck was stacked against him.
Thinking back to the 2005 season when Brees donned a San Diego Chargers uniform, it really is amazing that the quarterback has inked one of the most lucrative contracts in the NFL.
During the last game of the 2005 season, Marty Schottenheimer chose to start Brees over then-rookie Phillip Rivers. If you recall, Schott and A.J. Smith were engaged in a chess match over Brees and Rivers. Rivers was Smith's guy but there was no way Schott was going to give in. So Brees got the start in the final, meaningless (Chargers were out of the playoff hunt) game.
The Chargers were squared up against the AFC West Champion Denver Broncos and John Lynch sacked Brees in the end zone, causing him to fumble. As Brees stretched out grasping for the fumble, all 300 pounds of defensive lineman Gerard Warren landed on Brees' shoulder. His throwing shoulder. Brees was done.
So thought the Chargers.
And they had good reason to think Brees' career ended in that end zone.
Dr. James Andrews examined Brees' throwing shoulder a few days after the game and remarked that it's "one of the most unique injuries of any athlete I've ever treated." As Andrew puts it, "Lord, I was just hoping to give him a functional shoulder."
Again, the Chargers had every bit of evidence to say Brees was to be replaced. After all, Dr. Andrews informed them that "an average athlete would not recover from this injury." And while the Chargers offered to keep Brees for the type of money injured "back-up" quarterbacks get paid, he declined. So they brought in their electrifying rookie, Philip Rivers, and sent Brees packing.
Little did the Chargers know, Brees is not an "average athlete."
Brees' choices after the injury were the Miami Dolphins or the New Orleans Saints. What Brees wanted most was the best opportunity to secure the starting quarterback spot. New Orleans was his best option.
First-time head coach Sean Peyton offered Brees the helm if he was able to prove that his shoulder was a non-factor prior to the beginning of the season. Brees did just that and led the Saints to a 10-6 record.
Fast forward to Friday the 13th, and instead of gripping the pigskin, Brees has a firm grasp of a ball-point pen and has signed his name once again on a Saints' contract. Only this time, it's for $100 million, instead of the type of money reserved for injured "back-up" quarterbacks.