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Playing for Paydays

Just before this season started I wrote a post discussing the future of Drew Brees with the Saints. At the time, Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers were signing contracts in excess of $90 million and I wondered what kind of precedence that would set when it came time for Drew to renew, now currently the thirteenth highest paid quarterback in the league. Given Drew's talent, it was never a question of if he gets paid, only a matter of when and how much.

Apparently, we won't have to wait long to find out. Even though Brees is under contract through 2011, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Saints and Colts will both get deals done on 4-year contract extensions with their respective quarterbacks, Brees and Peyton Manning, this off-season. That answers the when part of our question, but what kind of record breaking deals can they expect?

Schefter believes, based on Eli Manning's deal in August worth $16.25 million a year, that the two Super Bowl XLIV quarterbacks will both earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $18 million a year, with Peyton being the higher paid of the two. That would make Manning's four year deal worth a total of $72 million.

All of this, of course, raises a new question: Does Peyton Manning automatically become the highest paid player in the NFL, regardless of the outcome of Super Bowl XLIV? If (and only if) the Saints are victorious this Sunday, isn't Brees more of the rising star with quite possibly more potential and, therefore, more value? Or does Peyton Manning's impressive past with no signs of slowing down earn him the highest bounty in the league?