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Drew Brees remains hopeful deal with Saints is within reach

Drew Brees remains confident that a contract extension with the New Orleans Saints will be worked out, and he reiterated Monday that he wants to play for the team for the remainder of his career.

Brees just doesn't know when the extension will get done.

"I've got, obviously, a very strong relationship with the Saints," Brees told ESPN 104.5 Radio in Baton Rouge. "So talks are ongoing, and I don't know if that is something that will be done next week or before the end of the year or next year or when. But obviously, I want to be a Saint for the rest of my career, and I think I've got a lot of good years left."

Brees, 37, is heading into the final year of the five-year, $100 million deal he signed in 2012, with a whopping salary-cap cost of $30 million.

Brees, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton have all insisted that they want and expect to work out a contract extension because they would like Brees to remain the team's quarterback in 2017 and beyond.

The Saints would also enjoy carving out some extra salary-cap space. As of Monday morning, they had the smallest amount of cap space in the NFL, at around $1.3 million, according to ESPN Stats & Information and the NFL Players Association. That figure does not include recent deals with linebacker James Laurinaitis and safety Jamarca Sanford, which have not yet been processed.

So far, there has been no real sense of urgency to get a Brees deal done, though that could change quickly.

"Of course I'm involved, but I have my agent for a reason," said Brees, who is represented by one of the top power agents in the NFL, Tom Condon. "That's his job, and so I allow him to do his job. Despite what might be portrayed as far as the business aspect of it for all players and all teams, listen, it's a negotiation, so there's always back-and-forth. I will allow them to take care of that. But I will only report [the news] when something is done."

Brees' deal was the richest in NFL history when he signed it. Since then, nine quarterbacks -- including the Baltimore Ravens' Joe Flacco twice -- have signed larger deals or extensions.

Brees' market value has increased in recent weeks, beginning with Flacco's signing a three-year extension worth $66.4 million in new money, good for the highest average salary in the league. Flacco's previous deal was similar to Brees' in both average salary and salary-cap level, so $22.1 million per year is a likely new baseline.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has gone against the grain by accepting hometown discounts in recent years, also signed a two-year extension worth $41 million in new money. Also, the Houston Texans signed Brock Osweiler to a four-year deal worth $18 million per year, even though he has just seven career starts.

Even if Brees signs a deal worth more than $22 million per year, he could significantly reduce his 2016 salary-cap hit, depending how the contract is structured.