NFL notebook: Brees hopeful he can remain with Saints

Reuters

Drew Brees is ready to being his 13th year with the New Orleans Saints.

All that stands between the 39-year-old quarterback and the 2018 season with the Saints is a new contract. However, Brees sounds entirely optimistic about his future being in New Orleans even as the final days of his existing five-year, $100 million contract melt away with the Saints watching the remainder of the playoffs.

"I'm not in the mood to make anything secretive," Brees said Tuesday when asked if he is prepared to be chased down for answers about where he will be next season. "It's the same way I felt two days ago. It's the same way I felt 12 years ago. That is that I'll be here as long as they'll have me, hopefully."

Because of a clause in his contract, the Saints cannot use the franchise tag to retain Brees, so keeping him certainly means a multiyear agreement. Brees said he will play well into his 40s, and he turned 39 on Monday, the day after the Saints were eliminated from the postseason on a last-second touchdown by Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

--Don't pencil Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in for three more seasons just yet.

A report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday said Roethlisberger told his teammates he would like to play at least three more seasons. When asked about that report during his weekly radio show Tuesday morning, the 35-year-old said he is looking at just one year at a time.

Key to Roethlisberger's decision-making process is continuity on the Steelers' staff. The signal-caller already cited the return of his entire starting offensive line as a reason he would be back to play in 2018. Now, the offensive coordinator job is in focus, as Todd Haley's contract is up.

--Leonard Fournette and the Jacksonville Jaguars dodged a major scare when the rookie running back was involved in a minor car accident.

Fournette, who had three touchdowns last week at Pittsburgh to carry the Jaguars into the AFC Championship Game, had his car rear-ended in the Tuesday collision but suffered no injuries.

Sgt. Dylan Bryan of the Florida Highway Patrol described the three-car collision as a "chain-reaction" accident on Interstate 295 near Jacksonville's Dames Point Bridge, USA Today Sports reported. Fournette's car was struck from behind by another vehicle, which was pushed forward after it had been rear-ended.

--Those wondering if Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril might call it a career as head coach Pete Carroll suggested got their answer.

Avril, 31, said he plans to be in the NFL next season, running counter to Carroll's statement that Avril and safety Kam Chancellor likely sustained career-ending neck injuries last season. Avril has spent the past five seasons with the Seahawks and has 74 career sacks.

"I mean, it's something I love to do. It's what I've been doing forever and, just as a competitor, I want to show that I can come back if it's possible, you know?" Avril said on NFL Network.

--After the surprising departure of head coach Mike Mularkey on Monday, the Tennessee Titans got their coaching search well underway, with a few candidates already emerging.

According to multiple reports, the team will interview Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur for the vacancy, and Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich could also be a candidate. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been connected with the opening in part because of his background with general manager Jon Robinson, but he is expected to take the Indianapolis Colts job.

Robinson mentioned the importance of "maximizing the skill sets" of the team's players as a major reason for Mularkey's departure. One of those players would be quarterback Marcus Mariota, who took a major step back in his third NFL season after showing promise through two years.

--Former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo interviewed for the Cleveland Browns' offensive coordinator job, according to multiple reports.

McAdoo was fired by the Giants on Dec. 4, along with general manager Jerry Reese, after the team started 2-10 in his second season and he benched quarterback Eli Manning. He was previously New York's offensive coordinator for two seasons.

The Browns have not confirmed candidates for the position since head coach Hue Jackson decided to relinquish play-calling responsibilities. However, Jackson reportedly previously met with Houston Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan. Mularkey also be a candidate, Cleveland.com reported.

--Retired NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he is interested in being a minority owner of the Carolina Panthers, but he is not involved in the group headed by Charlotte businessman Felix Sabates, a minority owner with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Earnhardt told The Associated Press that he recently called Marcus Smith, the president and chief operating officer of Speedway Motorsports Inc., about potential involvement in purchasing the Panthers.

Sabates told the Charlotte Observer that two NASCAR drivers were involved with his group and that he had been in contact with Smith about joining his group planning to make a bid. That immediately started people thinking that Earnhardt, a native of nearby Kannapolis, might already be involved, but Earnhardt clarified that he isn't one of two drivers involved with Sabates.

--When the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17, paving the way for the Buffalo Bills to reach the playoffs, thankful Bills fans showed their appreciation by donating to Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton's charitable foundation.

Now, Bengals fans are following suit by rewarding Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles for defeating their division rival in the playoffs. According to the Blake Bortles Foundation, more than 100 fans donated close to $5,000 since the Jaguars beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-42 in the AFC divisional round on Sunday.

"Fans are at the core of the football experience and it's truly exciting and rewarding when they band together, regardless of the team they cheer for, to make a positive impact in the lives of others," Bortles said in a statement. "I greatly appreciate the support displayed by Bengals fans and they should know their support will make a difference."

--Field Level Media

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