New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis says the team are thankful to Drew Brees for taking a hometown discount in his latest contract extension.

Quarterback Brees agreed a new two-year, $50million pact with the Saints, much less than he could have received on the open market.

The 41-year-old knew the Saints were tight against the salary cap and had already announced he would return on social media before they had struck an agreement.

Loomis was grateful to Brees for his commitment, which allowed them to add a key receiving piece in veteran Emmanuel Sanders, as well as safety Malcolm Jenkins, while retaining Taysom Hill, Andrus Peat and David Onyemata.

"We needed to know what Drew was going to count on our cap this year, what resources are we using, because then that gives us the ability to do some other things," Loomis said to the team's podcast, per NFL.com.

"To Drew's credit, his number one goal was to make sure we had an opportunity to improve our roster, keep our roster together and be as competitive as we can be. 

"I'm certainly appreciative of how he's handled that contract the last couple times because, again, the most important thing to him is we have a competitive team."


Earlier this week, Brees and his wife Brittany announced they will be making a huge $5m donation to help the state of Louisiana amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Brees will work in conjunction with a number of local organisations to provide aid during the ongoing crisis.

Saints head coach Sean Payton had tested positive for COVID-19 before being cleared on Wednesday.

NFL free agency rarely disappoints and this year was no different as a host of transactions gave fanbases plenty to get excited or frustrated about.

This year, the top names to hit the open market were of a greater calibre to those in a typical offseason, adding to the drama.

That free agency took place during the coronavirus pandemic meant it was the only major sporting show in town. Hopefully, it provided a welcome distraction to many.

Including trades that went down over the period, we have picked out 10 of our favourite moves and contracts, as well as those we were not so fond of.

TEN MOVES WE LOVED

Brady makes Bucs contenders

While Tom Brady, entering a season where he will be 43, can no longer carry a team like he used to, the six-time Super Bowl winner is still a top-10 quarterback. A massive upgrade on the turnover-prone Jameis Winston, Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers are postseason contenders with a support system that includes Bruce Arians' scheme, an impressive receiving corps and a defense trending in the right direction. 

Evergreen Sanders could be Saints’ missing piece

Drew Brees is coming back for another two shots at glory with the New Orleans Saints after leaving some money on the table to help the team's cap woes. The QB now has a second star wide receiver to pair with the brilliant Michael Thomas in the shape of the ageless Emmanuel Sanders, a piece they have been missing and previously looked to address with Dez Bryant. Sanders has still got it at 33, and with Thomas, the underrated TE Jared Cook and a healthy Alvin Kamara to throw to, Brees can help the WR reach the Super Bowl with a fourth team.

Chargers add Harris, and much more

The Los Angeles Chargers added an elite cornerback in Chris Harris for just $8.5m a year, boosting a defensive backfield that already contains Casey Hayward, Desmond King and Derwin James. There were other smart moves too, Bryan Bulaga boosting the offensive line, star tight end Hunter Henry retained on the franchise tag and pass-catching back Austin Ekeler signing a team-friendly four-year deal. The pieces are coming together, though they are lacking an established QB, perhaps one like…

Rivers gives Colts crucial upgrade

Philip Rivers contemplated retirement before opting to join an Indianapolis Colts team with one of the better rosters in the NFL, providing them with a big upgrade on Jacoby Brissett at the most important position. Rivers, now 38, will love playing behind a top-five offensive line that brought back Anthony Castonzo. There is little risk for the Colts - if it doesn't work out, Rivers is on a one-year deal and the bulk of a roster that has been built through the draft will still be there in 2021. The Texans' free-agency woes serve as a boost in the AFC South.

Broncos buy low on dominant Casey

At age 30, five-time Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey still has plenty to offer, yet the Denver Broncos were able to sign him for pennies on the dollar (a seventh-round pick) to boost a defense that also added A.J. Bouye and already features Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.

Big Play Slay just what Eagles needed

The Philadelphia Eagles swooped for Darius Slay, who was coming off a down year but remains an elite corner, without giving up premium draft capital. They then handed him an extension that keeps Slay under their control for four years, should they wish to retain him, as the team improved a glaring weakness in the secondary. In another impressive move, they locked up rising star Javon Hargrave for his peak years and he can be paired with the great Fletcher Cox.

Campbell smart business for win-now Ravens

Despite his age (33), Calais Campbell remains a disruptive force on the defensive line. A trade and extension means he will help the win-now Baltimore Ravens for the next two seasons, all at the cost of just a fifth-round draft pick.

Conklin fills pivotal Browns need

A dreadful Cleveland Browns offensive line hindered Baker Mayfield’s sophomore season and held back a stellar cast of playmakers. After former GM John Dorsey departed, his replacement Andrew Berry was wise to add star right tackle Jack Conklin, even at $15m per year. Could Trent Williams be next on the other side of the line?

Wait, Arizona got Hopkins for what!?

An improving and exciting Arizona Cardinals team added one of the NFL's great receivers is in his prime, DeAndre Hopkins, to pair with Larry Fitzgerald for their number one overall pick Kyler Murray. That they could do that without giving up a first-round draft selection and getting rid of a contract they no longer wanted (more on that later), was a free-agency moment few fans will forget.

Niners keep Armstead, land key draft pick

The San Francisco 49ers found a way to keep Arik Armstead after his career year, and, with significant resources already invested in their defensive line, allowed the Colts to pay DeForest Buckner an eye-watering $21m a year. While his exit will hurt, the number 13 pick in the draft was impressive compensation that, in a WR-heavy class, should secure some major help for QB Jimmy Garoppolo. 

Honourable mentions: Cory Littleton to the Las Vegas Raiders, Gerald McCoy to the Dallas Cowboys, Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills, D.J. Reader to the Cincinnati Bengals.
 

THE MOVES WE DIDN'T LIKE

Texans spend big on Cobb

Randall Cobb was productive in racking up 828 yards for the Cowboys last season, but handing the slot man $27m over three years just before he turns 30 is a questionable move when there is a Hopkins-sized hole in your receiving corps and limited draft capital with which to fill it.

Texans (sorry!) take on Johnson contract

The Texans' return for losing Hopkins was pitiful and they even did the Cardinals a favour by taking on the last two years of David Johnson’s big contract. Johnson has battled injuries and not been dominant since 2016. Even if he does get close to that level again, as a running back he offers less value than a star wideout.

Dolphins overpay for Flowers

New York Giants draft bust Ereck Flowers had a decent year at guard for the Washington Redskins, but surely that improvement was not enough to justify a three-year, $30m pact in Miami.

Bears still believe in Graham

Jimmy Graham still believes he has speed and big play ability, but the Green Bay Packers disagreed as they cut him this month. The Chicago Bears promptly handed the 33-year-old a two-year, $16m deal with a no-trade clause. Recent evidence suggests this will not work out.

Jags make puzzling Schobert splash

At a time when they are stripping their roster bare and entering full rebuild mode, the Jacksonville Jaguars' decision to lock up a middle linebacker for five years and $53.75m was a puzzling one, whatever the merits of Joe Schobert may be.

Titans give Tannehill all the money

Ryan Tannehill was incredible for the Tennessee Titans after replacing Marcus Mariota, but his career to date suggests 2019 is likely to prove an outlier that will be extremely tough to repeat. The QB looked a prime candidate for a prove-it-again franchise tag but instead landed $118m over four years, as the Titans committed their immediate future to him and dropped out of the Brady sweepstakes. It could work out, but at this stage you must ask if it was all worth it just to tag Derrick Henry.

And they pay up for struggling Beasley

While it is only a one-year deal, there are likely better ways for the Titans, who let Casey leave, to spend $9.5m fully guaranteed (potentially rising to $12m) than on Vic Beasley, who the Atlanta Falcons were happy to let walk as he struggled to generate consistent pressure, despite recording a flattering eight sacks in 2019.

New York make Giant reach for Martinez

The Giants were right to move on from middle linebacker Alec Ogletree, but Blake Martinez’s career to date suggest he might not offer a huge improvement when it comes to the all-important area of pass coverage. Big Blue have agreed to pay $30.75m for three years to find out.

Fant unlikely to solve Jets' woes

A former college basketball star, George Fant may have been a good swing tackle option in free agency, but not a three-year, $30m starting option who the New York Jets hope can solve their offensive-line woes. He spent a good portion of last year playing as a sixth offensive lineman for the Seattle Seahawks, and did not become an established starter on a unit that has traditionally been among the league's worst.


Dishonourable mentions: Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Jamie Collins to the Detroit Lions, Melvin Gordon to the Broncos, Jordan Howard to the Dolphins.

Drew Brees and his wife Brittany have announced they will be donating $5million to help the state of Louisiana.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback will work in conjunction with a number of local organisations to provide aid during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Brees has been in New Orleans since 2006 and recently signed a new two-year contract to extend his stay with the Saints, whose head coach Sean Payton tested positive for COVID-19 before being cleared on Wednesday.

There have been over 75,000 confirmed cases in the United States so far, with the virus claiming more than 22,000 lives around the world.

"After considerable research and conversations with local organisations, we will be mobilising our partnerships with Second Harvest Food Bank, Ochsner Health Systems, Walk-Ons, Jimmy Johns, Smalls Sliders and Waitr to prepare and deliver over 10,000 meals per day throughout Louisiana for as long as it takes to children on meal programs, seniors, and families in need," Brees wrote in a post on Instagram.

 "Let's all do our part, maintain hope, and get through this together."

Brees, 41, has thrown for 77,416 yards and 547 touchdowns in an NFL career that started with the San Diego Chargers.

Drew Brees and Nick Saban have each enjoyed careers that will ensure their place at the forefront of the rich history of American sports.

However, it is fascinating to ponder how the landscape of the NFL and college football might have been different had they worked together.

They came close to doing so in 2006, when Saban was head coach of the Miami Dolphins and Brees a free agent after contract negotiations with the then-San Diego Chargers broke down.

Brees had torn his labrum in the final game of the 2005 season and with Miami's doctors unsure whether his shoulder was fully healed from that injury, Saban and the Dolphins decided to trade for Daunte Culpepper instead.

It would prove to be one of the great missteps in Dolphins history, but what if Miami had instead decided to bet on the powers of recovery of a now 13-time Pro Bowler who has written his name all over the NFL record books?

The Saints go marching out

Brees instead signed a six-year deal with a Saints team coming off a 2005 season that saw them unable to play in the Superdome due to the damage it sustained during Hurricane Katrina.

It had been rumoured Saints owner Tom Benson was planning to void his lease agreement with the Superdome and declare it unusable, with San Antonio - where he had business interests - a potential destination.

The Superdome was repaired and renovated, however, and Brees led New Orleans to the playoffs in his first season with the team. The Saints uplifted the city as it recovered from Katrina and won their first Super Bowl title at the end of the 2009 season, with Brees named MVP of their win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Without Brees to turn them from perennial also-rans to Super Bowl contenders, Benson perhaps eventually decides to press ahead with plans for a move to Texas and New Orleans loses a team that became a beacon of hope for the city in the wake of its darkest hour.

Saban stays in the pros

At the time of the Dolphins' pursuit of Brees, they were coming off an encouraging 9-7 season in Saban's first year at the helm.

Miami won six successive games to end the campaign, finishing one game behind the New England Patriots in the AFC East.

They were unable to build on that promise, however, as the trade of a second-round pick for Culpepper proved an error. He played only four games and ended the season on injured reserve after knee surgery.

A 6-10 season was marked by continuous speculation connecting Saban to the vacant head coach position at the University of Alabama, before he accepted an offer from the Crimson Tide in January 2007.

Saban has since won five National Championships and six SEC titles at Alabama. Had he and Miami gone for Brees over Culpepper, the Dolphins may well have become consistent contenders in the AFC under Saban, with one of the most dominant dynasties in college football history never coming to pass.

Patriots lose superpower status

Saban's last win as an NFL head coach was in the Dolphins' 21-0 defeat of the New England Patriots in December 2006, handing former colleague Bill Belichick a shutout loss.

A defensive coordinator for Belichick's Cleveland Browns in the 1990s, Saban is one of few Belichick disciples to have excelled as a head coach, even if his glories have come away from the NFL.

With the team building and coaching acumen Saban has displayed since his departure, it is reasonable to believe the Dolphins would have been well-positioned to regularly challenge the Patriots' supremacy in the AFC East.

The New York Jets rose to prominence under Rex Ryan in 2009. Had Saban stuck around, the Patriots could have had two rivals capable of preventing their well-documented dominance of the division from stretching into a second decade.

Emmanuel Sanders has secured a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints.

The Saints announced on Sunday that the widely reported agreement between the two-time Pro Bowler and the team was officially done.

Having signed on a reported $16million contract, Sanders arrives in New Orleans in free agency after leaving the San Francisco 49ers, where he spent the second part of last season and reached the Super Bowl.

The wide receiver was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010 and then played for the Denver Broncos from 2014, winning Super Bowl 50.

Sanders, 33, scored three touchdowns in 10 regular season games for San Francisco last season, also throwing a 35-yard TD pass against the Saints.

Malcolm Jenkins said the New Orleans Saints are like family after returning to the NFL franchise via free agency.

Jenkins re-joined the Saints for a second spell in New Orleans following his departure from the Philadelphia Eagles.

The 32-year-old safety started his professional career with the Saints in 2009, helping New Orleans to victory in Super Bowl XLIV before moving to the Eagles in 2014.

After another Super Bowl triumph and five years in Philadelphia, three-time Pro Bowler Jenkins is back with the Saints on a four-year deal.

"I am very, very excited to be coming back to New Orleans, especially at this point in my career," Jenkins told reporters on Saturday. "It kind of feels like everything's coming full circle and obviously with the success that the team has had in the last few years, being able to come back and just help push the team just with that one more step that I think it needs to be back in that Super Bowl again.

"I'm super excited and grateful for Mrs. Benson, Mickey Loomis and Sean [Payton] for giving me the opportunities to come back. New Orleans is family. I still have a place down there and my second daughter's middle name is NOLA because I love that place. I'm excited to be back in the community.

"My foundation has maintained our programs in New Orleans over the last six years. It feels like I'm coming back home."

Emmanuel Sanders has reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints.

Sanders, 33, spent last NFL season with the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers, helping the latter reach the Super Bowl, which they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The two-time Pro Bowler, who won a Super Bowl with the Broncos during the 2015 season, has agreed to a deal with the Saints, according to ESPN.

ESPN reported Sanders had agreed to a two-year, $16million deal with New Orleans.

The Saints are set to be Sanders' fourth NFL team, having started his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010.

New Orleans reached the playoffs last season before losing to the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC wildcard game.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has tested positive for coronavirus, he has revealed.

Payton is the first player or coach in the NFL known to have contracted the virus.

There have been over 13,000 confirmed cases in the United States amid the pandemic, including 185 deaths.

Payton, who has been the Saints coach since 2006, winning Super Bowl XLIV, confirmed his diagnosis to ESPN.

He then posted on Twitter: "Appreciate the well wishes. I'm feeling better and fortunate to not have any of the respiratory symptoms. Four more days at home."

Payton, 56, called on others to listen to the advice of medical experts as he told ESPN: "This is not just about social distancing.

"It's shutting down here for a week to two weeks. If people understand the curve, and understand the bump, we can easily work together as a country to reduce it.

"Take a minute to understand what the experts are saying. It's not complicated to do what they're asking of us. Just that type of small investment by every one of us will have a dramatic impact.

"I was fortunate to be in the minority, without the serious side effects that some have. I'm lucky.

"Younger people feel like they can handle this, but they can be a carrier to someone who can't handle it. So we all need to do our part. It's important for every one of us to do our part."

The new NFL year officially began on time on Wednesday, prompting free agency moves, but the 2020 Draft has been impacted by the outbreak.

The event in Las Vegas will now take place behind closed doors.

A day after Tom Brady's exit from the New England Patriots was confirmed, a deal was struck to send the last quarterback to defeat him in a Super Bowl to pastures new.

Brady is expected to be announced as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer after deciding to end his 20-season association with the Patriots.

However, his change of scenery is far from the only transaction affecting the NFL landscape. Here, we wrap up the significant moves reported to have been agreed as the new league year began on Wednesday.

 

Nick Foles, who got the better of Brady in Super Bowl LII, is reportedly headed to the Chicago Bears after the Jacksonville Jaguars agreed to trade him in exchange for a fourth-round pick.

The Jags are parting with Foles just a year after signing the former Philadelphia Eagle to a four-year, $88million contract. He will now provide competition for Mitchell Trubisky, whose role as the Bears' starter is under threat after a disappointing 2019.

Foles' departure allows Gardner Minshew to step in as the starter in Jacksonville. Sixth-round pick Minshew outplayed Foles, who was limited to four games because of injury, last year and will now get the chance to prove he is the Jaguars' franchise quarterback.

Brady's last game as a Patriot came in a playoff defeat to the Tennessee Titans, who made the surprising decision to deal defensive lineman Jurrell Casey to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a seventh-round pick. Casey has at least five sacks in each of the last seven seasons.

The Detroit Lions were also involved in the trade market, acquiring safety Duron Harmon from the Patriots. Detroit agreed to a two-year deal with defensive linemen Danny Shelton. Both players have a connection with Lions head coach Matt Patricia from his time as New England's defensive coordinator.

Another former Patriot, center Ted Karras, is staying in the division, signing a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins.

The New Orleans Saints are said to have agreed a deal to bring back safety Malcolm Jenkins after he was let go by the Eagles. Jenkins was drafted by the Saints in 2009 before leaving for the Eagles in 2014.

Their NFC South rivals the Carolina Panthers released safety Eric Reid, while the Atlanta Falcons inked edge rusher Dante Fowler to a three-year contract.

Leonard Floyd will fill the void Fowler's exit left for the Los Angeles Rams, who have re-signed guard Austin Blythe and veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

Elsewhere in the NFC West, the Seattle Seahawks have brought back former first-round pick Bruce Irvin, the pass rusher who played a key role in their Super Bowl-winning 2013 season. Reigning NFC champions the San Francisco 49ers re-signed center Ben Garland to a one-year deal.

The Los Angeles Chargers may have missed out on Brady, but they have bolstered their defense with the signing of defensive tackle Linval Joseph. Cornerback Chris Harris also intends to sign with the Chargers.

Cornerback Eli Apple will play a part in the Raiders' first season in Las Vegas, while safety Sean Davis is headed to the Washington Redskins on a one-year deal.

Drew Brees has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $50million deal with the New Orleans Saints.

Brees, 41, has been with the Saints since 2006 and next season is set to be his 20th in the NFL.

NFL Network reported on Tuesday that Brees had agreed to a two-year contract with the Saints worth roughly $50m.

Brees led the Saints to the playoffs last season before they fell to the Minnesota Vikings in an NFC wildcard clash.

The quarterback threw for 2,979 yards and 27 touchdowns in 11 games, having been sidelined with a thumb injury.

Drew Brees has confirmed he will return for the 2020 NFL season. 

The quarterback is poised to enter free agency but looks set to sign fresh terms with the New Orleans Saints after the 41-year-old revealed he will eschew retirement and play on for a 20th season in the league. 

He posted on Instagram: "My feelings about the 2020 season! I look forward to the grind and the journey, for the reward at the end will be worth it!!! Love you #WhoDatNation. Let's make another run at it!"

Last season Brees helped the Saints to a 13-3 record despite missing five games with a thumb injury.

He threw for 2,979 yards and 27 touchdowns with just four interceptions in 11 regular-season games. However, the Saints suffered a shock 26-20 overtime defeat to the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

The former Chargers quarterback joined the Saints in 2006 as a free agent after five seasons with the then San Diego franchise. Brees led the Saints to their only Lombardi Trophy with victory in Super Bowl XLIV at the end of the 2009 season.

He owns the NFL records for career passing yards, completions, touchdown passes and highest career completion percentage.

Brees' performance against the Vikings was overshadowed by that of backup Taysom Hill, who completed the game's longest pass, ran for 50 yards and caught a touchdown pass in just 23 offensive snaps.

Hill, who will be a restricted free agent when the new league year starts in March, has expressed a desire to earn a starting quarterback job. 

Teddy Bridgewater went 5-0 in his time as starter in Brees' injury-enforced absence and is expected to draw significant interest when he enters the market as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

The future is certainly bright for the Kansas City Chiefs after they were crowned Super Bowl LIV champions on Sunday.

A 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium earned veteran Andy Reid his first ring as head coach, while quarterback Patrick Mahomes became the youngest player to be named both MVP - an honour he won a year ago - and Super Bowl MVP in NFL history.

With Mahomes just 24, the Chiefs will have aspirations of dominating for the foreseeable future and replicating the two dynasties the New England Patriots and Tom Brady enjoyed with six Lombardi Trophies across two decades.

However, winning back-to-back Super Bowls is no mean feat - no team has done it since the Patriots 16 years ago - so we take a look at which teams could prevent Kansas City from winning it all again in Tampa Bay next February.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

The best team in the NFL's regular season fell at the first hurdle in the playoffs as the 14-2 Ravens were upset at home by the Tennessee Titans.

That was a deflating note to end on for quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was voted the NFL's MVP by unanimous vote 24 hours before Mahomes won his first ring.

Jackson is just 23, most of the Ravens' star players are expected to return and coordinators Greg Roman and Wink Martindale will likely be back alongside Coach of the Year John Harbaugh.

If Jackson is able to replicate or even exceed what he did in his first full year as the starter, the Ravens might be bound for Tampa next year.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Long live the kings? Don't count on it.

The 2019 season felt like the end of an era as Father Time looked he had finally caught up with 42-year-old quarterback Brady.

Yet those who have written off New England in the past have often ended up looking incredibly foolish.

The Patriots have 19 straight winning seasons, the best head coach in the game in Bill Belichick and had the NFL's number one defense in 2019. Brady's future remains uncertain but one final push for a Lombardi is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

The nearly men of the past three seasons; Saints fans have been crushed by a trio of playoff defeats featuring walk-off plays.

New Orleans will believe they will be playing January football again after three straight seasons with double-digit wins.

Sean Payton remains one of the preeminent offensive minds, Michael Thomas broke the single-season record for receptions in 2019 and an underrated defense complements a free-scoring offense.

At 41, Drew Brees' career is coming to an end, but, presuming he decides to return next season, the Saints will surely be contending again.

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

The Steelers only went 8-8 in 2019 but San Francisco's transformation from 4-12 to 13-3 and a Super Bowl berth is evidence of how the NFL can quickly turn on its head.

What should give Steelers fans cause for optimism is that they won eight games without their starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger was still playing at an elite level prior to his 2019 season-ending injury, leading the league in passing yardage with a career high 5,129 yards in 2018.

Combine that with an impressive young defense and a head coach tried and tested in the postseason and you have the recipe for another Super Bowl run.

ARIZONA CARDINALS

A left-field suggestion, sure, but look at the significant strides both Mahomes and Jackson took in their second years in the league.

Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray believes he can make a similar leap in 2020 and, if he can, look out.

Arizona's offense under rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury hummed at times in going 5-10-1 in 2019 and the addition of more weapons in free agency would significantly aid Murray's development.

Their biggest problem, beyond fixing a porous defense, is finding a way to come out on top in a division that contains the NFC's last two Super Bowl representatives - the 49ers and Los Angeles Rams - as well as postseason regulars the Seattle Seahawks.

The New Orleans Saints accept they offered advice to the city's Archdiocese on how best to handle public relations for litigation on claims of sexual abuse made against members of its clergy, but refute suggestions they have tried to conceal information. 

Reports emerged on Friday that attorneys for around two dozen men suing the church accused the NFL franchise of aiding the Archdiocese of New Orleans to conceal alleged crimes from members of its clergy.

The Saints responded to those accusations via a team statement, insisting they are "offended, disappointed and repulsed by the actions of certain past clergy" and explained they advised the Archdiocese to be transparent in its approach.

"While there is current litigation relative to the New Orleans Archdiocese and clergy sex abuse, our comments are limited only to the scope of our involvement," the statement read. 

"The New Orleans Saints organisation has always had a very strong relationship with the Archdiocese. 

"The Archdiocese reached out to a number of community and civic minded leaders seeking counsel on handling the pending media attention that would come with the release of the clergy names in November of 2018. 

"Greg Bensel, senior vice president of communications for the New Orleans Saints, was contacted and offered input on how to work with the media. The advice was simple and never wavering. Be direct, open and fully transparent, while making sure that all law enforcement agencies were alerted. 

"The New Orleans Saints, Greg Bensel and (owner) Mrs. Gayle Benson were and remain offended, disappointed and repulsed by the actions of certain past clergy. We remain steadfast in support of the victims who have suffered and pray for their continued healing."

The reports claimed the Saints are trying to take action to shield more than 200 e-mails, but the team insisted they are not attempting to conceal information.

"Further, the Saints have no interest in concealing information from the press or public," the statement added. 

"At the current discovery stage in the case of Doe v. Archdiocese, the Saints, through their counsel, have merely requested the court to apply the normal rules of civil discovery to the documents that the Saints produced and delivered to Mr. Doe's counsel. 

"Until the documents are admitted into evidence at a public trial or hearing in the context of relevant testimony by persons having knowledge of the documents and the events to which they pertain, the use of the documents should be limited to the parties to the case and their attorneys. 

"If admitted into evidence of the case, the documents and the testimony pertaining to them will become part of the public record of the trial of the case."

The New Orleans Saints want Drew Brees to return for a 20th NFL season but the veteran quarterback insisted he would not rush the decision.

Brees recently celebrated his 41st birthday and is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

The former Super Bowl champion became the NFL's all-time leader in touchdown passes in December and threw for 208 yards in the NFC wild-card loss to the Minnesota Vikings earlier this month.

However, he plans to consult with his family before deciding on whether to continue his illustrious career.

"I wanted to give it at least a few weeks, months, postseason, just to take a deep breath and decompress a little bit and get some time with the family and then just reassess," Brees told ESPN.

"The most important thing is time with my family, to be with them, talk to them about it. It will be a shared decision. I know my boys wish Dad could play forever."

New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis promised there would be space for Brees if he chose to return for the 2020 season.

"Yeah. I don't think it's any different than it's been for the last few years," Loomis said.

"It's easy to take him for granted, yet I don't take him for granted.

"I don't view it any different than I did a year ago or the year before that or the year before that, regardless of whether he has a contract or not.

"He's a good player. He's been a good player. He continues to be a good player."

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton believes star quarterback Drew Brees will be back on the field in 2020.

Brees is coming out of contract after the Saints suffered a surprise wild-card loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL playoffs earlier in January.

Set to celebrate his 41st birthday on Wednesday, Brees has refused to be drawn on his future amid reports of offers to become a television analyst.

Payton, though, expects the Super Bowl champion and MVP to play in New Orleans next season.

"I see him on our field this upcoming season," Payton told ESPN on Sunday.

"I do think he is one of those guys that, whatever he touches - business, obviously football, and whatever his future holds when he is done playing - he is going to be successful at.

"But I still think and based on what we just finished watching and grading, which was the body of work of all season, he was outstanding and he's got more football left in him."

Brees, who suffered a thumb injury during the season, completed 281 passes for 2,979 yards and 27 touchdowns in 11 games.

The Saints veteran also broke the NFL record for most career touchdown passes this season.

Brees moved up in the record books yet again, surpassing Peyton Manning with his 540th TD pass against the Indianapolis Colts in December.

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