Evans Clinchy
Saturday January 21st, 2012

Drew Brees' season in New Orleans is over, and so is his six-year, $60 million contract with the Saints. But the franchise quarterback remains adamant that he wants to stay in the Big Easy, telling the Associated Press today that he'd be "beyond stunned" not to return next season.

"My No. 1 priority, and it always has been this, is keeping our team together and making sure we have the right guys in the right positions to make a run at this for a long time," Brees said. "We all kind of work together on this thing. I'm not worried one bit about my contract or our ability to keep guys at key positions."

The Saints' season ended Saturday with a shocking loss to Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers. With the early vacation comes a great deal of doubt about the franchise's future, as Brees is far from the only Saint whose deal expires this spring. Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks and receivers Marques Colston and Robert Meachem will also hit the open market.

"Is it realistic to think we can keep absolutely everybody?" Brees said. "I don't know how realistic that is, just because every year on a team, there's turnover. I think that's just the business we're in." Brees originally signed with the Saints in March 2006 after five years with the San Diego Chargers, who made him a second-round draft pick in 2001. He's thrown for 40,742 career yards and 281 touchdowns. He set an NFL single-season record this year with 5,476 yards passing.

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