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Drew Brees confident new deal with Saints will come 'sooner than later'

Drew Brees, 37, is in the final year of his five-year, $100 million contract with the Saints. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

NEW ORLEANS -- Drew Brees reiterated Thursday that he is “very confident” he will sign his own long-term contract extension with the New Orleans Saints at some point in the wake of coach Sean Payton's new extension.

And when asked why there hasn’t been more of a sense of urgency, so they could get the deal out of the way before the start of offseason camps and provide the team with some needed salary-cap space, Brees said, “Certainly my hope and goal would be that we could get something done sooner than later.”

But Brees said he understands that “these things are always a process.”

“I wouldn’t say there’s anything complicated about it, and yet I understand it’s a process,” said Brees, who has one year remaining on his current contract. “Obviously there’s a lot going on right now in regards to free agency still, and preparing for the draft and continuing to kind of fine-tune the roster, and obviously in our case getting Coach Payton an extension. So I know that these things happen in due time.”

Whenever Brees’ deal gets done, it will kick off his second decade as quarterback of the Saints. He arrived in New Orleans 10 years ago this month, and I spoke to him Thursday as part of an upcoming Q-and-A, reflecting on the remarkable run he and the Saints have had so far.

Payton said Wednesday that Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and Brees’ agent Tom Condon “have had quite a bit of discussion in the last week and a half.” And sources told ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder that they are working on a proposed four-year extension, which would keep Brees in New Orleans through 2020 -- the same length as Payton’s new deal.

Brees, 37, is in the final year of his five-year, $100 million contract with the Saints. But his salary-cap cost is a NFL-high $30 million, and the Saints are virtually out of salary-cap space after signing a handful of free agents in recent weeks.

Brees’ market value could be tricky to determine, since quarterback salaries -- and all player salaries -- are escalating so rapidly.

Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco recently signed the richest contract extension in NFL history at $22.1 million per year. And former Denver Broncos backup Brock Osweiler signed with the Houston Texans for $18 million per year, with only seven career starts under his belt.

More than half of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks now make more than $17 million per year. Brees’ $20 million average, which set a NFL record in 2012, now ranks ninth, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

However, Tom Brady has set a unique precedent with the New England Patriots in recent years by taking less than maximum value in his extensions (his latest included $41 million in new money over two years).

Brees didn’t get into too much detail when it came to negotiations. But he said of those other QB contracts, “I think if you pull up all the contracts of all the quarterbacks in the league, I’m sure that there’s circumstances surrounding each and every one of them. But at the end of the day, it’s again like I said, I’m hopeful and confident that something will happen sooner than later.”