Saints quarterback Drew Brees smiles after Zach Strief's retirement press conference at the Saints Training Facility in Metairie, La., Monday, March 12, 2018. Zach Strief played for the New Orleans Saints for 12 years.

Advocate Staff photo by SOPHIA GERMER

Negotiating a contract has changed for Drew Brees over the years. 

While a lot of players around the NFL have spent the first few days of free agency understandably intent on capitalizing on their market value, Brees signed a two-year, $50 million extension to stay in New Orleans. 

Brees, who has been adamant that he has no desire to play for any team other than the Saints, could have used the interest of other teams to raise his price. 

But at the age of 39, with a young team that came within a whisker of the NFC Championship game last year, Brees wants to make sure he has the team to get a second Super Bowl ring. 

"I think I’ve always tried to take a logical and reasonable approach to every contract," Brees said. "But I think especially now, you want to be able to look at the big picture and see how it affects the rest of the team and how you continue to build the team so that you can make a run at the ultimate goal."

Brees got a little bit of a feel for free agency for the first time in 12 years earlier this week, when teams were allowed to contact his agent beginning on Monday.

"It felt a little weird, and again, my mindset has always been that I will be playing for the Saints and I’m going to retire a Saint," Brees said. "It’s not like I was really taking any of them seriously, but just to hear the offers and feel the attention, that was interesting."

Brees knows he's only going to get so many chances at a second ring. 

Years ago, Brees made headlines when he said he wanted to play until he was 45, but after 12 years in New Orleans and 17 years in the NFL overall, he is well aware how difficult it is to get to the game and win it. 

And although he has a goal for how long he wants to play, he's keeping it out of the public sphere these days. 

"I’m not going to share it with you guys, sorry," Brees said. "I do have a goal and a vision for where my career’s going to go and how long it’s going to last, but I’m very, very focused on each year, one at a time."

What he's focused on right now is a Saints team that seems poised to be an NFC contender for at least the next two years of his deal, if not longer. After years of rebuilding, the Saints finally hit the right formula with a combination of sound free-agent investments and two good draft classes, including a 2017 class of rookies that will go down as one of the best immediate-impact drafts of a generation.

New Orleans has added three more veteran defenders to the roster in free agency so far, bolstering the group of players they already have. 

After years of seeing chances slip away as the Saints rebuilt, Brees knows the time for New Orleans to capitalize has come.

“’14, ’15 and ’16 were hard, those are hard years, going through what we went through, not having the success that we wanted, feeling like things had gotten away from us a little bit," Brees said. "I feel like I’ve always been committed to turning that around and making sure I was a part of the solution. ... Certainly, you look at the potential that we have in our young players, and you should feel excited." 

Excited enough to change the perception of the free-agent process. 

Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.