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Brees renegotiates to help Saints with cap if he retires

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Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) works against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

NEW ORLEANS – Drew Brees has agreed to renegotiate his salary down to the NFL minimum in 2021, a move that would save the New Orleans Saints considerable space under the salary cap next season, a person with knowledge of the situation said Friday night.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither the Saints nor Brees have publicly discussed the new contract agreement, which was first reported by overthecap.com.

While the 42-year-old Brees has not announced his retirement, guaranteed money from his previous contract, which ran through 2021, would have counted more than $22 million against the salary cap next season if the record-setting QB chose to stop playing this year.

Under the newly agreed upon contract, Brees could help the Saints by waiting until June to retire, at which point his guaranteed money would be effectively split between 2021 and 2022, providing the Saints with more than $11 million in additional salary cap space in 2021. However, Brees contract also would count around $11 million against New Orleans' 2022 salary cap.

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Brees has played 20 NFL seasons, including the past 15 with the Saints, and is the NFL's all-time leader in yards passing with 80,358.

His 571 career touchdown passes rank second behind only Tom Brady's 581.

Brees won nine of 12 regular season starts while completing 70.5% of his passes in 2020, and then won a wild-card round playoff game against Chicago before New Orleans’ season ended with a divisional-round loss to eventual NFC champion Tampa Bay and the 43-year-old Brady, who plays in his 10th Super Bowl on Sunday against Kansas City.

Brees missed four games this season with multiple fractured ribs and a collapsed lung. It marked the second straight season Brees had to miss part of a season with an injury. In 2019, Brees missed five games because of a thumb injury on his throwing hand that required surgery.

Brees holds the NFL’s single-season record for completion rate at 74.4% in 2018, but also holds the second-highest mark at 74.3 in 2019 and third-highest at 72% in 2017.

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His 70.5% rate in 2020 ranked ninth all-time, giving Brees six of the top nine season completion rates in NFL history.

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