MOBILE, Ala. -- Drew Brees said he won't make a decision anytime soon on whether he is coming back for a 20th season at age 41. But New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said the Saints "obviously" want him back.
Brees is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. But the quarterback made it clear the most recent time he was a free agent in 2018 that he has no desire to test the open market and will remain in New Orleans as long as he decides to keep playing.
"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's NFL Live while at the Pro Bowl on Wednesday.
Brees said his family will be a big part of the decision. Then he pointed to his kids, who were standing nearby, and said, "I know this: I know my boys love coming to work with dad every day when they can. If they had a vote, dad would play forever."
Brees, who holds the NFL records for career passing yards, touchdowns, completions and completion percentage, told ESPN last month that he made a conscious decision in 2017 to start taking each season one year at a time and treating each season like it could be his last.
So this "decompression" period has been the norm for him in recent offseasons, while he has continued to play under deals with the Saints that pay him only one year of guaranteed salary at a time.
Loomis, meanwhile, confirmed at the Senior Bowl on Wednesday that the Saints want Brees back, even though backup Teddy Bridgewater is also scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent and third-string QB Taysom Hill is scheduled to be a restricted free agent.
"We'd love to have Drew back, and if he wants to be back then we'll go from there. I'm assuming that he does," Loomis said. "I don't think it's any different than it's been the last few years.
"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 a year before that, or a year before that -- regardless of whether he has a contract or not. Yeah, he's a great player, he's been a great player, he continues to be a great player."
When asked about Brees' stellar finish in December (15 touchdown passes, zero interceptions), Loomis said, "Look, if any of us are surprised at what he does, then we're just not very smart."
It would be a bit surprising to see Brees call it quits now, since he is still playing at such a high level. He had a career-best passer rating of 116.3 in 2019, despite missing five games early in the season because of thumb surgery.
And it would be even more surprising to see Brees finish on such a sour note after a disappointing performance in the Saints' 26-20 overtime playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Saints have won the most regular-season games in the NFL over the past three years (11-5 in 2017, 13-3 in 2018 and 13-3 in 2019). But they haven't been back to the Super Bowl for 10 years since Brees was named the MVP of Super Bowl XLIV.
While Loomis made it sound like an easy choice to keep Brees, the Saints might face tougher decisions regarding Bridgewater and Hill.
Bridgewater, 27, went 5-0 as a starter this season while Brees was sidelined, which could make him more attractive on the open market. Last year, Bridgewater elected to stay with the Saints as a free agent on a one-year deal worth $7.25 million plus incentives.
When asked if it's feasible to keep paying both Brees and Bridgewater, Loomis said, "We'll see."
"Obviously we'd like to have our whole team back," Loomis said. "We just came off a 13-3 season. We've got a great locker room, great bunch of guys, and so in a perfect world, we'd have everybody back. But there's free agency and a lot of things are going to happen between now and then."
Keeping Hill will be easier since he is a restricted free agent, which gives New Orleans the right to match any deals he might sign elsewhere. But the Saints still need to decide on the size of their one-year qualifying offer to him. If they want to require teams to give up a first-round draft pick if they sign Hill away from New Orleans, it will cost at least $4.5 million. A second-round compensation level would cost at least $3.2 million.