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Saints GM Mickey Loomis says Drew Brees not going anywhere

METAIRIE, La. -- In case there was any lingering doubt, New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis made it clear Thursday that Drew Brees isn't going anywhere.

"Drew's gonna be our quarterback," Loomis said twice during his end-of-the-season news conference -- once adding a chuckle as though any other possibility was laughable.

Brees' future has been the subject of speculation. He turns 37 on Friday and is scheduled to count $30 million against the Saints' 2016 salary cap in what is the final year of his contract.

But Loomis shot down the notion that Brees could be released or traded, saying the only thing that has not been determined is whether the quarterback will play out the final year of his contract or the Saints will pursue an extension.

Brees, who is due $20 million in salary and bonuses this year, said last week that he would "absolutely" be amenable if approached about an extension. When asked whether Brees' standout 2015 season made the Saints feel even better about an extension than they did one year ago -- after Brees had a down year by his standards -- Loomis said no.

"He's had a great season every season. Some have just been a little better than others -- or a lot better than others," Loomis said. "And, look, I get the questions, it's because of his age. But, man, he had a great season. And it's just normal Drew Brees, you know.

"That's what we've come to expect and probably take it for granted."

Saints coach Sean Payton made a similar commitment to Brees last week when he noted that it's a "good assumption" Brees isn't going anywhere.

"I'm proud of how he's playing and how he's working," Payton said. "My hair's gotten a little grayer, and he's lost some of his, but that's about all that's changed."

Brees' $30 million cap figure will be the largest for any single player since at least 2002, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That's a hurdle for a Saints team roughly $10 million over the projected 2016 cap of around $150 million per team.

But Loomis stressed that the Saints' cap situation isn't "dire" and that it's not any different from what they've been dealing with the past four years. With or without a Brees extension, they shouldn't have much trouble getting under the cap, he said.

"I keep reading how we're in dire straits with the cap and this, that and the other. And, look, it's not a great cap situation. But it's not as dire as sometimes I think it's painted out to be," Loomis said. "We know where we're at. We know what we have to do.

"I don't like being up against the cap or being over the cap, but I'm comfortable in that area because we've been that way. When you're a good team and you're paying guys, that circumstance is gonna happen."

The most challenging part of extension talks with Brees will be determining his value at age 38 and beyond. Brees became the highest-paid player in NFL history at $20 million annually in 2012. But that is now the ninth-highest average salary among quarterbacks.

In addition, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady accepted a contract well below market value in 2013, when he agreed to add three years to the end of his contract for what turned out to be $10 million per year.

Loomis also addressed Payton's status during his news conference, saying the idea of the coach leaving for another team never got too serious.

"Here's what I can tell you: I never had a discussion with another team. No one called me, and I didn't call anyone else," Loomis said.

When asked whether it reached the stage at which Loomis contemplated how much compensation he would require from another team that wanted to hire Payton, he said, "Not really."

Loomis said the two days' worth of meetings he had with Payton weren't much different than their normal postseason meetings about the state of the team.

"His first statement when he walked in the room was, 'Hey, I want to be here. I want to be coach for the Saints,'" Loomis said. "It never really went beyond that."