METAIRIE, La. — In the latest signal that Drew Brees is preparing to retire after 20 seasons, the New Orleans Saints quarterback has agreed to reduce his 2021 salary from $25 million to the veterans minimum of $1.075 million, a source confirmed to ESPN on Friday.
The move will free up nearly $24 million in salary-cap space for a Saints team that was projected to begin the offseason close to $100 million over the cap.
The agreement was first reported by Over The Cap.
Brees, 42, has not yet announced whether he officially plans to retire. But the move has been widely expected for months. Saints coach Sean Payton said Wednesday that he expects an announcement on Brees’ future plans within a week or two.
Brees and the Saints would then wait until after June 1 to officially file his retirement paperwork so they could spread his remaining salary-cap costs over the next two years. Brees was scheduled to count $36.15 million against the cap this season, with another “dead money” hit of $11.5 million scheduled to count against the 2022 salary cap from previous signing bonuses.
Now he will count just $12.225 million against the cap until June 1 — which would be reduced to $11.15 million after he officially retires. He would still count another $11.5 million against next year’s cap under that scenario for a total of $22.65 million in dead money.
If Brees retires, he will go out as the NFL’s all-time leader in career passing yards (80,358) and ranked second all-time in touchdown passes (571) and completion percentage (67.7%).