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Drew Brees prefers extension, but is ready to play out current deal

Mike Florio looks at what it will take for Drew Brees to leave New Orleans.

The Saints and quarterback Drew Brees still haven’t worked out a new contract that would reduce his $30 million cap number for 2016. Publicly, both sides continue to say all the right things.

I’m very confident that it will [get done],” Brees told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt of SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday.

So what if it doesn’t get done?

“I’ve got one year left, so it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t and we play through the year,” Brees said. “I did that back in 2011. I’d rather not do that.”

The difference between 2011 and 2016 is that the Saints would be looking at a franchise tender of $43.2 million to keep Brees around for 2017, which means that the franchise tag most likely would not be applied to Brees. Which makes rumors of the Saints making a play for a guy like Paxton Lynch even more intriguing, since that would place Brees squarely in the Sam Bradford “stop-gap” category for the rest of 2016. It’s territory with which Brees is particularly familiar, given that he was playing for the Chargers when Philip Rivers arrived in 2004 as the fourth overall pick.

The best move for both sides would be to work out a long-term deal that cements Brees’ status as the starter for the next two or three years, obviating the need for looking at quarterbacks in the draft and allowing the Saints to use those picks elsewhere.

To the extent that the team’s inability to sign cornerback Josh Norman constituted the first shot in a P.R. battle between Brees and the Saints over the inability to reduce his cap charge due presumably to his contract demands, the P.R. battle will proceed to the next level if a high pick in the draft ends up being devoted to a position at which the Saints don’t have a need in 2016 -- but could in 2017.