White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. – So…
You might have heard about the news about New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees entering the final year of his contract and he and the team not having reached an accord on an extension – once, or twice, or 1,483 times.
You might have wondered if Brees, the best player in franchise history, has become a bit distracted by said news, given that the preference of any player worth his cleats – especially, one who could have a cleat named in his honor – is to be under a long-term contract that, in an ideal world, provides security for him and the franchise.
Well, the truth of the matter is that fans appear to be a lot more distracted by Brees' contract status than does the player at this point.
Brees, in his first training camp news conference at The Greenbrier, said Thursday that his laser-like vision is directed elsewhere.
"Honestly, it is really the last thing on my mind," he said. "I'm all about football, I'm all about getting myself and this team ready to have a great season. I think that that'll take care of itself when the time comes but as for now, I'm just focused on training camp."
Brees previously has said that once the regular season begins, contract negotiations would cease.
"My approach is that when the season is here, it's all about the season," he said. "I don't want to be worrying about a contract or anything else. My mind will be on the preparation week to week, on the next opponent. If there's something to be done, then it's between now and the season.
"I think we all have enough on our mind and on our plate right now in regard to making this team and filling a role and watching this whole thing come together right now. I think everybody is excited about that. When you get to camp, you shouldn't be worried about a contract situation. You should be worried about football and how do I get the best out of myself and the team.
"Once the season comes around, it's not something I want to be negotiating or worrying about. I'll be focused on whoever we're playing that week."
That kind of focus last season led to Brees having one of his best seasons, despite missing a game with a shoulder injury and playing with a torn plantar fascia the final two-and-a-half games. He led the league with 4,870 passing yards, completing 428 of 627 throws (68.3 percent), and threw 32 touchdowns, with 11 interceptions.
And according to linebacker James Laurinaitis, Brees showed up in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., ready to pick up where he left off last season.
"His dang pump fakes, man – especially Day 1, when you're just super excited to break on anything," Laurinaitis said. "The way his shoulder twitches. It's fun to watch, but it's not fun to watch on tape when you're the one going the wrong way.
"It's fun going against him because the pace at which the offense goes forces the defense to be on top of their stuff. If you're just sitting there, lolly-gagging around, Drew has already reloaded the offense, he has checked and he's going. So it really forces us to be on our stuff. It's fun to go against that every single day."
It's an approach that Brees said he carries every day.
"My mind-set is the same whether I've got a one-year deal or a five-year deal," he said. "In my mind, it's a game-to-game basis. Each and every week, I've got to go out and I've got to prove it.
"I've got to prove that I give us the best chance to win, I've got to prove that I'm a leader on the team that's going to get the best out of everybody around me, and myself. That's always my mind-set, regardless of what my contract says."
So the absence of an extension is no distraction for Brees, or his teammates.
"The contract stuff, especially for a guy like Drew, you kind of have a battle there between a guy that knows what he's worth and a team that wants to get a deal that makes sense for them, and he wants a deal that makes sense for him," right tackle Zach Strief said.
"They're big and complicated. It's not like – I could've signed my deal with (Saints general manager) Mickey (Loomis) in five minutes, at a table. It's just not that type of a situation with him. It drags on and it looks bad sometimes because it's not super common.
"(But) I think at the end of the day, it's two sides that both want to do what's best for their side of the argument and at the same time, trying to take care of each other a little bit."
Said Brees: "Nothing is adversarial. I've got a great relationship with Mickey Loomis, and have for my entire time here. This is just that part of the business – conversations happen in regard to the contract between my agent, Tom Condon, and Mickey Loomis and obviously, I am kept abreast as to the way those conversations are going. But I think there's a process to this, and it's not an exact science and it's not an exact process. We'll see how it shakes out here over the next month."