Retirement is closer than it’s ever been after Drew Brees’ big pay cut

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John Sigler
·2 min read
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Drew Brees’ agreement to renegotiate his contract with the New Orleans Saints was big news, and for good reason: he dropped his salary cap hit from more than $36 million to roughly $12 million, with more changes expected once the Saints designate him a post-June 1st release. That will spread the accounting out a little further into 2022, giving them some much-needed room to maneuver beneath the 2021 salary cap.

This is noteworthy because it’s different from the restructures Brees has agreed to before. This time, he isn’t taking a big signing bonus to restructure his base salary into prorated payments — he’s leaving money on the table altogether in a clean pay cut.

It’s also significant because it signals the end of an era. This is the end of the road for No. 9. He’s likely already thrown his final pass in the Superdome, a deep shot to tight end Jared Cook that was picked off at midfield by Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards (file those names away for trivia night). In agreeing to cut his salary from its lofty heights to the lowest possible veteran’s minimum, Brees is taking a step towards the door and the retirement awaiting him.

And, no, Brees is not returning to risk more broken ribs or torn ligaments over $63,000 a week, give or take a couple thousand dollars. This is his way of doing his part to help the team one last time. He’s waiving paychecks he wasn’t going to cash anyway, giving New Orleans the opportunity to keep the rest of the roster together and maybe go chase some new additions in free agency.

Of course nothing is official until Brees says so himself. But Sean Payton expects his decision to be made public in the next week or so, after the buzz surrounding Super Bowl LV has quieted and when the Saints can give the future Hall of Famer the platform he’s earned. This pay cut isn’t the same thing as Brees retiring (or the bookkeeping the Saints will have to file after he’s hung up his cleats), but it’s easy to read these tea leaves.

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