Brees confident Saints can keep him and other key players

Drew Brees said he would be "beyond stunned" if he and the New Orleans Saints are unable to agree on a contract extension during the offseason, echoing comments by coach Sean Payton this week.

Brees added he doesn't believe his next deal will prevent the Saints from bidding for some other key members of their record-setting offense who will become free agents, including Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks and receivers Marques Colston and Robert Meachem.

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"My No. 1 priority, and it always has been this, is keeping our team together and making sure we have the right guys in the right positions to make a run at this for a long time," Brees said Friday by phone from his offseason home in San Diego. "We all kind of work together on this thing.

"Put it this way: I'm not worried one bit about my contract or our ability to keep guys at key positions."

At the same time, Brees indicated whether some players return is somewhat out of his control, as is the case every year.

"Is it realistic to think we can keep absolutely everybody? I don't know how realistic that is just because every year on a team there's turnover and I think that's just the business we're in," Brees said.

Brees, 33, is expected to command an annual salary in the range of $18 million, which would be commensurate with the average yearly pay of New England's Tom Brady and Indianapolis' Peyton Manning. Brees just completed a six-year, $60 million contract.

Brees' agent is Tom Condon, who also represents Manning.

In 2011, Brees set NFL single-season records with 468 completions, 5,476 yards passing and a completion percentage of 71.2. His prolific passing numbers helped the Saints set a new NFL high for total offensive yards in a season with 7,474.

The former Super Bowl MVP led the Saints to a 13-3 regular-season record and second NFC South Division title. New Orleans defeated Detroit in the first round of the playoffs before falling in the final seconds of their divisional-round game at San Francisco, which hosts the NFC title game on Sunday.

Brees arrived in New Orleans in 2006, less than a year after Hurricane Katrina had struck. Since then he has passed for more yards than any quarterback in the NFL (28,394) while lifting the Saints to new heights and simultaneously helping a region heal from Katrina's devastation.

"It's been an unbelievable journey over the last six years to watch how far, not only our organization and out team, but just the mental psyche of the city" has improved, Brees said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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