Brees' contract is worth $40 million in the first year and includes $60 million in guaranteed money, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told Lombardi and NFL.com's Albert Breer.
The quarterback's new deal is worth an average of $20 million per year, making it the richest in the NFL based on average annual salary, and includes a $37 million signing bonus. With the bonuses counting against the cap on a pro-rated basis over the life of the contract -- $7.4 million per year in Brees' case -- he will only count $10.4 million against the cap in 2012.
Deal is Done!Love you, Who Dat Nation. See you soon!
â Drew Brees (@drewbrees) July 13, 2012
Brees and the Saints had reportedly been more than $10 million apart on the guaranteed portion of the contract.
"Congratulations are in order for our organization, our city, Drew and (wife) Brittany and certainly for (general manager) Mickey Loomis and his staff for all of the hard work put in to make this possible," Saints owner Tom Benson said in a 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 host and play in a Super Bowl."
Loomis said that the front office was excited to get the deal done.
"What Drew has accomplished in his time with the Saints, he deserves to be the highest paid player in the league," Loomis said in a statement.
Brees 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 with the New Orleans Saints uncertain.
Brees, who had been steadfast in not wanting to play for a one-year deal, skipped the Saints' offseason practices while holding out for his new long-term contract.
"I've said this all along. I know what our organization's about, I know what Drew's about. And I know much winning means to our organization and Drew," Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt told the Times-Picayune. "I was never concerned. I just think these things go down to the last minute. Mickey's gotta juggle contracts and the salary cap. Drew has to worry about getting the best deal he can because this could be the last big deal of his career."
"You know as well as I do, this is a great player. People throw the word 'great' around now like they're breath mints. But he is a great player," Vitt said.
The 33-year-old quarterback's new deal tops the previous benchmark contract for elite QBs set by the five-year, $96 million deal the Denver Broncos gave to Peyton Manning this offseason. Manning is three years older than Brees and sat out last season while recovering from neck surgery.
"I've been around six Hall of Fame players in recent years, and I've never been around a better player," Vitt added. "And combine that with the fact that he's an even better man, what can you say?"
Last season, Brees completed 468 passes for 5,476 yards, an NFL record, and 46 touchdowns while leading the Saints to a 13-3 record. New Orleans was subsequently eliminated in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game by the San Francisco 49ers.
Suspended Saints head coach Sean Payton was happy to see Brees rewarded for his contributions over the years.
"It's great to see what he has done here in six years and get rewarded," Payton told WWL-TV Sports. "He has got a lot of good football left. He has been durable, works extremely hard at it.
"Heâs one of those players not affected by the outside things. Some of that is the money, the awards. Those are important. But I think heâs driven in such a unique way. I think itâs a good day for Saints."
This offseason marked the first time Brees had the opportunity to negotiate a major, long-term deal with the leverage provided by a string of injury-free seasons and on-field highlights. Brees racked up a slew of individual and team statistical records and led the Saints to a win over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.