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Drew Brees reaches contract extension with Saints

Brees was scheduled to have a cap hit of $30 million for 2016, the largest for any player in the league.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints have extended the contract of quarterback Drew Brees.

The extension is for five years, but an automatic void provision means Brees is only committed to the Saints for two seasons. The deal contains $44.25 million in guaranteed money. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Brees' deal will pay out $20 million this season and $24.25 million in 2017.

More importantly, his cap hit is now $17.25 million, per Ed Werder of ESPN. That's a substantial cap savings for New Orleans. Prior to the extension, Brees' cap hit for 2016 was going to be $30 million, the league's largest number for any player in NFL history.

Brees was in the final year of his five-year, $100 million contract and was adamant that he wanted to get a new deal done before the start of the season. Now 37, his new contract could take him to the end of his career, but it's also short enough that he could sign another one if he still has enough in the tank.

"I plan to play for longer than two years," Brees told the media after announcing his extension. "This is what was in the best interest of the team."

Either way, it seems likely that Brees will finish his career with the team he's played for since 2006 and helped win a Super Bowl for three years later.

"I want to play my entire career here," Brees said. "I'll be here for as long as they want me."

This is the second time New Orleans has reworked his deal. Last September, the team converted $5.2 million of his 2015 salary into a signing bonus to create $2.6 million in cap space. At the time, the Saints were near their salary cap limit for the season, making it financially difficult for them to cover for injury replacements.

Even though the Saints have produced back-to-back losing seasons, Brees hasn't slowed down. Despite playing through an early-season shoulder injury that caused him to miss one game, Brees delivered another outstanding season in New Orleans in 2015. He threw for a league-leading 4,870 yards and 32 touchdowns while completing 68.3 percent of his passes. Once again, he shouldered a huge load for the pass-heavy Saints' offense, ranking second in the NFL in both attempts and completions.

The Saints have one of the worst cap situations in all of football and a ton of needs up and down the roster, so the deal was necessary and crucial to get right. Already this offseason, the team signed left tackle Terron Armstead to a five-year extension and extended center Max Unger for three years. With Brees and his blindside protector set in place for the next few years, the biggest talent deficiency is on the defensive side of the ball. The Saints have a top-10 offense but ranked last in the NFL in points per game, first downs per game and yards per play allowed.

One of the NFL's most prolific passers, Brees has thrown for 60,903 yards and 428 touchdowns in his career. Entering his 16th season, Brees is 459 yards away from moving past Dan Marino into third place on the all-time career passing yards leaderboard.