Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is 37 years old and entering the final year of his contract, but he believes he will play into his 40s.
According to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, the signal-caller said “without a question” when discussing whether he can maintain his high level of play past his 40th birthday:
I don’t see any reason why I can’t play at the highest level for the next five years. Minimum. … I want to step away from this game when I’m ready to step away from this game. Not because somebody tells me I can’t play or because my level of play has fallen off. I have a goal in mind, (but) I’m gonna keep that to myself.
Brees’ contract negotiations—or lack thereof—have been a dominant headline hovering over the Saints as the 2016 season approaches. Triplett reported the guaranteed money in any potential new deal is possibly “one of the greatest sticking points.”
Triplett also pointed out Brees and general manager Mickey Loomis have said talks aren’t moving forward, although the quarterback specified, “If there’s a time to do it, certainly now would be the time,” because he doesn’t want to discuss it during the regular season.
Brees did make sure to say he has a positive relationship with Loomis and called the contract situation “part of the business.” Perhaps more important to New Orleans fans looking for a bounce-back effort after a 7-9 season, Brees said it won’t be a distraction for him or his teammates.
“When you get to camp, you shouldn’t be worried about a contract situation. You should be worried about football and, ‘How do I get the best out of myself and the team?’” Brees said, per Triplett.
It is hard to argue that Brees didn’t get the best out of himself in 2015 after leading the NFL with 4,870 passing yards. His age may be a concern in contract talks, especially with the subject of guaranteed money, but the Purdue product has done little on the field to suggest there will be a falloff in the immediate future.
The nine-time Pro Bowler led the offense to 403.8 yards per game last year, the second-best mark in the NFL. Had the defense, which allowed a league-worst 29.8 points per game, performed better, the Saints likely would have been more formidable opponents for the 15-1 Carolina Panthers in the NFC South.
Brees, who rarely misses game action, has also surpassed 4,300 passing yards every year since he joined the Saints:
It may seem like a stretch to say a quarterback will continue to be effective after turning 40, but Brees continues to put up dominant numbers for the Saints. He has also stayed relatively healthy, which is equally important when attempting to remain a force in the NFL past your prime.
Older quarterbacks are not without precedent in the league, either.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, 38, threw for 4,770 and 36 touchdowns last season. Elsewhere, Peyton Manning struggled from a statistical perspective as a 39-year-old signal-caller in 2015 (nine touchdown passes to 17 interceptions), but he did win the Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos before retiring.
Brees has time to win another Lombardi Trophy as well if he does play past 40.