Saints quarterback Drew Brees was a guest on the NFL Network Tuesday morning and said that any rumors about this season being his last in New Orleans are false. He also added that he doesn't envision any scenario where both he and Saints head coach Sean Payton aren't working together again on the New Orleans sidelines next year.
"I think we -- a plan was put in place throughout last offseason as to how we were going to build a foundation by which to make a run at it in the future," Brees said, via NFL.com. "That includes some new faces, that includes some young players that, I think, will all have a chance to come together and kind of build a team that can make a run at it in the future."
The questions about Brees' future come on the heels of a report from NFL Media's Ian Rapoport that the Saints are frustrated with Brees over his decision to take as much money as he could when he signed a five-year, $100 million deal with the Saints in 2012. The 36-year-old Brees has a $30 million cap hit next season.
New Orleans is already facing cap trouble for 2016. The team currently has more than $154 million in cap commitments next season, including $139.9 million for just 42 players on the roster and more than $14 million in dead money for players no longer with the team. Trading Brees would be difficult with his current contract. Cutting him would reduce the burden, but still leave the Saints with another $10 million in dead money. (Cap numbers via Spotrac).
"What I am told is do not simply assume he will be back," Rapoport said on the NFL Network on Sunday. "He will need to take a hometown discount as far as a contract extension to do so. There is some thought on the team that the reason they have depth issues is because Brees maximized his contract last time."
Individually, Brees is having one of the best seasons of his career. He's completed 68 percent of his passes, thrown for 4,547 yards and 31 touchdowns and has only been picked off 11 times. But the Saints have struggled as a team. They're 6-9 and will miss the playoffs for the third straight year.
"Unfortunately, we had high expectations going into this year and we fell a bit short," Brees said on Tueday. "But I'm confident with the character, the leadership, the talent we have."
As for Payton, league executives believe Payton could leave the Saints following this season, according to Rapoport. Payton has two years remaining on his contract but reports have connected him to both the Dolphins and the Chargers, especially if the Chargers were to move to Los Angeles, which is near where Payton's daughter is enrolled in school.
SB Nation presents: Appreciation for Drew Brees following his 400th TD pass