The Business Page: Breaking down Drew Brees' contract
Prior to the 2012-2013 season, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees signed a five-year contract that netted him $40 million for last season alone. Of that figure, only $3 million was base salary; $37 million was his signing bonus.
His 2013 pay differs greatly. For the upcoming season, Brees will earn $9.75 million with an additional $250,000 as a workout bonus, bringing his total team-paid compensation to $10 million.
As part of the contract, which will still have three years remaining on it after this season, the Saints will have a three-day post-Super Bowl window to release Brees. If they don't part ways, they'll owe him another $11 million for the fall 2014 season.
The final two years of his deal contains similar opt-out language and salary totals of $19 million for 2015 and $20 million for 2016. The front-loaded signing bonus protects Brees financially with up-front guaranteed money and the yearly opt-out options -- albeit in short windows immediately following the conclusion of the Super Bowl -- gives the Saints some flexibility, especially in the final two years of his deal.
The $10 million New Orleans will pay Brees this season doesn't tell the quarterback's entire financial story. The star quarterback will pocket another $7.8 million this year based on contracts with Vicks, Tide, Pepsi, Verizon, Nike, Advocare, Monster Headphones, Chase and Wrangler.
The endorsement deals for Brees have grown each year of his New Orleans' tenure, with the next national rollout of Brees with Wrangler set to launch in August.
Brees says he's proud to be a father and tries to live as an example of what he stands for with his faith and as a family man, which leads to "great American brands" approaching him for endorsement deals. Not only does Brees earn extra money, but he says that all his marketing deals also contain a charitable component for his personal foundation.
"Maybe it starts with a $25,000 donation, but there are times it has evolved into larger donations, maybe $100,000 or a quarter of a million," he says.
Craig Errington, vice president of marketing for VF Jeanswear (Wrangler), says that a "great way to connect with consumers is to put a real personality and face on a brand through an endorsement relationship." By adding Brees to the Wrangler endorsement list, which already includes athletes Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brett Favre, the company adds a family value-centered character Wrangler hopes resonates with consumers.
"There is an authenticity to Drew," Errington says. "There is a down to earth quality, he is approachable and relatable while being a hard working rugged guy. We appreciate that and there is a relateability with that."
Brees uses the relationships with advertisers to help in the community, but he can also extend his own brand into new demographics. "I can't tell you how many moms have come up to me who say their 12-year-old daughter loves me because of my (Pepsi) commercial with One Direction," he says. "Without that exposure, that demographic doesn't know about me and NFL football."
With the variety of agreements piling up for Brees, he says he must believe in the authenticity and respect a company to sign on for the added contractual days, especially considering that his faith, family and football are already all vying for his time. "There's always that balance and it is a constant struggle," he says. "I'm very systematic with my schedule, structuring it around my family and nap times, for example."
By building his family -- part of his dad image, no less -- into marketing opportunities alleviates some of that concern. His son, Baylen, was with him in a Chase Bank commercial and the new Wrangler ads he started shooting on May 9 include the entire family. "I was able to have a lot of input, so that will be a memorable moment and a great opportunity to be together and show our family loose and having fun," he says.
As more companies become enamored with Brees' family-man qualities, assuming he remains at the top of his field ("as a national brand we want to have guys that are well known, ideally are very popular and very successful and we shoot for people at the very top of their trade"), you can expect to see Brees telling you all the great things about jeans, phones, medicine, shoes, detergent, beverages and plenty more for years to come. That's the value of athletic success coupled with pure likability.