Quar­ter­back calls: Brees stays with Saints, Keenum to Den­ver

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - SPORTS - By Barry Wilner

Drew Brees is stay­ing put in the Big Easy. Case Keenum is headed to the Rocky Moun­tains.

Kirk Cousins? No de­ci­sion yet, his agent says.

One day be­fore the league’s new year be­gins, deals are be­ing struck across the na­tion. As usual, quar­ter­backs are in the spot­light, start­ing with Brees.

The Saints star has agreed to a two-year, $50 mil­lion ex­ten­sion with New Or­leans, with $27 mil­lion guar­an­teed the first year, two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the con­tract told The As­so­ci­ated Press. They spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity Tues­day be­cause the agree­ment has not been an­nounced.

Brees is 39 and wants to fin­ish his ca­reer in New Or­leans, where he has played since 2006, won a Su­per Bowl and led what has been one of the most pro­duc­tive of­fenses in the NFL since he and coach Sean Pay­ton ar­rived.

“I’ll be here as long as they’ll have me,” Brees said af­ter last sea­son ended.

In 2017, Brees com­pleted an NFL-record 72 per­cent of his passes for 4,334 yards and 23 touch­downs against eight in­ter­cep­tions. He ranked fourth in the NFL in yards pass­ing and the Saints ranked sec­ond in the NFL in to­tal of­fense.

Keenum, a backup when the sea­son be­gan, guided Min­nesota to the NFC North ti­tle and then into the con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game. He’ll cash in with the Bron­cos.

The 30-year-old Keenum is con­sid­ered the sec­ond-best QB avail­able in free agency. He went 11-3 with 3,547 yards pass­ing, 22 touch­downs and seven in­ter­cep­tions. His last-sec­ond throw to Ste­fon Diggs stunned the Saints 29-24 in the play­offs.

Den­ver chose to by­pass in­cum­bents Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Pax­ton Lynch and go for Keenum, who can’t sign un­til Wed­nes­day.

Six years ago, GM John El­way landed Pey­ton Man­ning, the big­gest free-agent prize in NFL his­tory, fol­low­ing his re­lease by the Colts and a se­ries of neck fu­sion surg­eries. Man­ning guided the Bron­cos to two Su­per Bowls and won the 2015 NFL cham­pi­onship. Now, El­way hopes an­other free agent will repli­cate Man­ning.

Cousins will visit with the Vik­ings on Wed­nes­day, agent Mike McCart­ney said. ESPN re­ported that Cousins will sign with the Vik­ings, but McCart­ney said no de­ci­sion has been made yet by his client.

The Jets and Car­di­nals also are pur­su­ing the 29-year-old who played con­sec­u­tive sea­sons for Wash­ing­ton on fran­chise tags. New York also has shown in­ter­est in Vik­ings QB Teddy Bridge­wa­ter and Ari­zona has done the same with Min­nesota’s Sam Brad­ford. In other moves: —Su­per Bowl cham­pion Philadel­phia lost two tight ends, cut­ting vet­eran Brent Celek, then saw Trey Bur­ton agree to a four-year, $32 mil­lion con­tract with Chicago. The Bears also will be sign­ing Jack­sonville re­ceiver Allen Robin­son on Wed­nes­day.

—Jack­sonville line­backer Paul Posluszny, 33, the sec­ond-lead­ing tack­ler in fran­chise his­tory, re­tired af­ter 11 sea­sons. Posluszny started his ca­reer in Buf­falo be­fore play­ing the fi­nal seven years in Jack­sonville. He led the Jaguars in tack­les five times. His 973 stops trail only Daryl Smith (1,089) in Jack­sonville’s record book.

—Buf­falo bol­stered its in­te­rior de­fen­sive line, agree­ing to a deal with Car­olina tackle Star Lo­tulelei and re­sign­ing Kyle Wil­liams, who con­tem­plated re­tire­ment.

—Kansas City will add wide re­ceiver Sammy Watkins and mid­dle line­backer An­thony Hitchens, fill­ing two glar­ing needs.

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