Drew Brees coy about contract

Updated: April 12, 2012, 10:49 AM ET
By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees isn't tipping his hand about whether he'll attend the team's voluntary offseason program that starts Monday.

Speaking at a news conference to promote his charity golf tournament, Brees repeatedly was asked if he'll show up Monday at the team's facility in Metairie, La.

"We're continuing to work on a long-term deal," Brees told reporters at the La Costa Resort & Spa in California. When asked the same question several different ways, Brees responded with the same answer.

The Saints placed the exclusive-rights franchise tag on Brees just before the start of free agency. The tag means Brees would earn about $16 million in 2012, but he has yet to sign the tender.

Even while he temporarily tabled negotiations during the second half of the 2011 season, Brees continually has said he expects to work out a long-term contract before next season.

If a deal isn't in place or Brees hasn't signed his tender by Monday, it could make for another crazy day in the Saints' already stressful offseason. Coach Sean Payton is scheduled to begin his season-long suspension on April 16 and an interim coach has not been named yet.

When asked about the bounty situation, Brees said: "This is a shock to all of us."

He also was asked about the recording in which former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams urged his team to target San Francisco players for injury in a speech the night before last season's playoff game.

"Hard for everybody to hear," Brees said.

Brees was asked if he felt he had been a target of a bounty program during his career.

"I know this, that when a guy has an opportunity to take a shot at the quarterback, he's going to take it," Brees said. "I'm not saying that he's trying to end your career, that he's trying give you a concussion or what have you, but between the knees and the neck, they're trying to take you out every time. I know that for a fact, every defensive player that's trying to hit you. That's just football. We play a violent game."

Then, he added: "I am not condoning by any means any kind of a bounty structure, and I will clarify that there is a difference between pay-for-performance and pay-for-injury, and I'd say what we've been accused of in regards to pay-for-injury is not the case."

Beginning the offseason program without Brees would only complicate things further for the Saints, but he continued to maintain his role as the team's unquestioned leader Tuesday.

"Whatever's thrown at us this year, we'll continue to thrive," Brees said when asked how the Saints will get through the obstacles.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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