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Brees deal sets new bars for average, guarantee


The Saints had been willing for a while to make Drew Brees the highest-paid player in NFL history.

Now that he is, let’s take a closer look at what we know, so far.

The whopping $60 million in guaranteed money includes $40 million fully guaranteed, and $20 million in guarantees presumably based only on injury until 2013, a function of the NFL’s outdated and unrealistic “funding” rule, which requires a team to put in escrow now any fully guaranteed money due in the future.

The $20 million annual average puts Brees ahead of Peyton Manning. It also comes via a contract that, barring serious injury, the 33-year-old Brees likely will fully complete.

Perhaps most importantly, it stretches the rubber band in advance of other quarterbacks who may want to upgrade their own contracts. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, signed for three more years, will earn a base salary of only $8 million in 2012. How can the reigning league MVP not merit an upgrade in the wake of Brees’ deal?

Ditto for Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford, and, eventually, Cam Newton.

The difference for Newton is that, under the CBA, he can’t get a new contract until after the 2013 season. For the rest, they can get paid now.

And no one should fault them for trying.