Brees, Saints expected to discuss new deal at combine

Scheduled to reach free agency next month, Drew Brees has already emphasized his desire to remain in New Orleans as long as the Saints will have him.

To that end, Brees' representatives are expected to meet with the team at the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine "to try to hammer out what is potentially a short-term deal," NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Wednesday's edition of NFL Total Access.

Although negotiations have yet to begin in earnest, there's urgency to reach agreement before the start of the league year when Brees would count $18 million against the Saints' salary cap absent a new deal.

A prominent voice in the NFL Players Association throughout the latter portion of his career, Brees has pushed for maximum contract value in the past. Finally at the helm of a promising young roster set to contend for the Super Bowl, the veteran quarterback's tone has changed in recent months.

Rapoport expects the sides to find common ground on a deal that will fall between $20 million and $25 million annually.

"Is Brees going to break the bank as he did previously? Probably not," Rapoport explained earlier this week. "I know the Saints certainly do not see him eclipsing even really what he had last time. ... It's really about finding the sweet spot somewhere in the low-to-mid twenties to extend him, but yeah, he is going to be their quarterback."

If there's drama to be encountered in this round of negotiations, it figures to occur early next month when Brees' agent has a chance to gain leverage via the threat of that $18 million in dead money hanging over the new league year.

From the tone of Brees' public comments and Rapoport's reporting, the Saints will have a prime opportunity to lock up the face of the franchise before it reaches that point.

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