METAIRIE - It’s only a matter of time before New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees cashes in on his recent success and moves on to NFL Ea$y $treet with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Michael Vick, among others.
Brees, 32, is entering the last year of a six-year, $60 million contract that will pay him a reported base salary of $9.8 million this season.
That figure should grow exponentially whenever Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis and Brees’ agent, Tom Condon, strike a new, multi-year agreement - perhaps approaching $18 million per season.
Meanwhile, Brees has more pressing matters to consider, beginning with Thursday night’s nationally televised NFL regular-season opener against the reigning Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field.
For the second year in a row - and third time in five years - the Saints will help usher in a new NFL season.
The Saints also opened the regular season in 2007 on the road against the then-Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts (losing 41-10) and last year at home as reigning Super Bowl XLIV champ against the Minnesota Vikings (winning 14-10).
“It’s all about execution,’’ Brees said when asked about his team’s lackluster offensive performances in those games against the Colts and Vikings. “There are always opportunities there. It’s just about cashing in on those opportunities.
“The Green Bay Packers are a great team. They’re not the defending Super Bowl champs for nothing. This is one of those crazy environments: first game of the season. There are so many reasons why this is such a huge game. That’s why our job is to cut through it all, eliminate distractions, go out there and play the best that we can.’’
Brees’ ability to cut through the minutia of seemingly larger-than-life moments and focus solely on the job at hand bodes well for the Saints on Thursday night.
In fact, playing in a primetime football game is a return to normalcy for him, considering the high-profile business role he played during the league’s historic 131-day lockout.
Brees spent the offseason playing a lead role in the ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement - first as an executive board member for the NFL Players Association, then as a lead plaintiff in their antitrust suit against league owners.
Sandwiched in between, he helped fund and organize players-only workouts for his teammates from May 1 to June 16 at Tulane University.
Now his job becomes less complicated Thursday night.
“I hope that we score more points than what we have in the previous two Thursday night games (against the Colts and Vikings),’’ he said. “All that matters is that we score one more than they do.’’
One week ago, Brees wasn’t exactly pleased with where the Saints offense was in the latter stages of the preseason, but he certainly wasn’t about to panic.
Still, the Saints have no choice but to be ready against a defense that was among the league’s best last season during the Packers’ impressive run to a Super Bowl title.
“I’m not satisfied,” Brees said before the exhibition finale, a game in which he did not play in. “We have a lot to do, but I like the progression. I like the fact that we’ve gotten better a little each day since the start of camp.’’
But the Saints do have, he said, what it takes to make another strong run through the regular season, playoffs and possibly to the Super Bowl again.
“It takes a little skill and a lot of luck, but I feel like we have a lot of the pieces in place,” he said of what it takes to win a second title in three years. “It’s just a matter of taking it one week at a time, not getting ahead of yourself, not getting complacent just because you have a talented team.
“We have to go out and earn it every time we step on the field.’’
That starts Thursday night.