|Drew Brees had plenty of reasons to smile after signing his five-year, $100 million contract with the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. (Alex Restrepo/New Orleans Saints)|
"It's been a little surreal just because of the process throughout the offseason, and just how challenging an offseason it's been for everyone, obviously everyone within the Saints organization, this city," Brees said. "It's just been a crazy offseason and I think we're all just ready to get back to work and excited that it's all starting here in a week. It's hard to believe."
Brees and the Saints reached an agreement Friday on the terms of a new deal, which includes $60 million in guaranteed money and a $37 million signing bonus. Brees will earn $40 million in the first year of the contract, and the $20 million yearly average salary makes it the NFL's richest.
The deal gives the Saints flexibility in the short term. 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 -- Brees will only count $10.4 million against the Saints' salary cap in 2012.
After signing his contract, Brees stopped by a Jimmy John's sandwich shop he owns to grab some lunch. There he posed for photos, shook hands and signed autographs for star-struck fans before hopping in a white sport utility vehicle and heading for the airport.
Brees said he missed his teammates and is eager to practice against the scheme of new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
"Camp, for me, especially now with Spagnuolo and a new defensive scheme, that's fun for me because just as a competitor, you go through about a four-week period where you're competing against your own defense and they're scheming you up and you're scheming them up," said Brees, who spends parts of offseasons in southern California. "I missed the guys, I missed the competition. I'm just excited to get back to work."
Brees is coming off a 2011 season in which he set NFL single-season records with 468 completions, 5,476 yards passing and a 71.2 completion percentage.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.