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2018 New Orleans Saints Questions: How will the Saints extend Drew Brees?

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Pay him now, or pay him later?

Divisional Round - New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

We begin a series that will likely span the length of the entire New Orleans Saints offseason where we look a key questions the Saints will face at various points of the year - the 2018 NFL Draft, free agency, and the 2018 regular season. We turn first to one of the first essential dominoes in the New Orleans offseason planning process: How will QB Drew Brees be re-signed?

Divisional Round - New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Notice the question is how not “if.” There is no question at this point for the Saints on whether or not Drew will be quarterbacking the New Orleans Saints in 2018 as both the organization and player have expressed the desire for Drew to retire a Saint. And the question isn’t really “when,” as we know it will be done soon (since Drew’s previous signing bonus that is spread over multiple seasons becomes a 2018 cap hit if he’s not signed to an extension), and when exactly it happens in this window is irrelevant.

So the question becomes “how.” How will Drew and the Saints agree to keep the franchise QB in the Bayou? Will the Saints do something similar to his most recent contract by giving Drew more guaranteed money in the form of a signing bonus that is paid out over the course of multiple years? Doing so would simply delay a future return to “cap hell” for Mickey Loomis and the Saints front office.

Will Drew be willing to take any form of discount on what could be the final big payday of his career? Or would he demand (rightfully so) to be paid like of the NFL’s best? Would the Saints front-load a deal with the cap space they have available this year to avoid future cap hell when the Saints young core would be ready for costly extensions? To do so would mean the Saints have less money to commit to other free agents and help improve the team this offseason, in one of the fear years remaining in Drew Brees’s window.

Drew has previously shown a willingness to negotiate a salary while keeping in mind the Saints’ need to improve the team via free agency. When Josh Norman was let go by the Carolina Panthers, Drew and his agent had discussed potentially re-negotiating Drew’s salary so the team could bring the CB to New Orleans.

It will take a similar willingness from Drew to play for slightly under “market value” if the Saints want to be able to be equally as competitive in 2018 as 2022. If Drew instead doesn’t take any form of a discount (which he’s not required to do by any means), which route should the Saints go? Should they play for 2018 by paying Drew in years he might no longer be playing for the team? Or should they play for the future and frontload as much of Drew’s contract as possible? Which would you prefer? What is your (realistic) preferred new contract for Drew? Tell us in the comments. Send me presents.