NEW YORK (AP) — New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees is confident that he and the Saints will agree on a long-term contract.
With the start of training camp about a month off, the two sides still have "a ways to go" to close the gap, the 2010 Super Bowl MVP said Tuesday.
Nonetheless, he said, "I'm confident, and always have been, that we'll get a long-term deal accomplished."
Brees acknowledged that the NFL's bounty investigation into the Saints has slowed down negotiations.
"This has been a stressful offseason in a lot of ways. There's been a lot of distractions for everybody," he said. "I'm not using that as an excuse other than just stating it as fact. That has delayed things quite a bit at times."
And when it comes to that bounty probe, Brees is adamant that the league has not proved money ever changed hands in a pay-to-injure scheme.
"How can everybody think that when there's been no proof that's been put forth thus far?" he said. "There's been an investigation; there's been a lot of stuff put in the media as to what was going on. But is there any proof to back that up? No, there's not. Not yet."
Brees was in New York on Tuesday to discuss a program that provides free concussion testing for more than 3,300 middle and high schools and youth sports organizations. He was joined on a panel by retired New York Rangers goalie Mike Richter, former New York Giants linebacker Carl Banks and ex-U.S. women's soccer team goalkeeper Briana Scurry.
Scurry's career was ended by a concussion more than two years ago, and she still suffers symptoms such as short-term memory loss, she said. Against that backdrop are the allegations that Saints defensive players intended to injure their opponents.
But Brees described the NFL's evidence so far as "hearsay" and "hypotheticals," not the definitive proof needed.
"If there is, then it needs to come forward," he said. "If it is what they say it is, then punishments will be levied and deservedly so. But if there's not, then we need to vindicate the guys that were obviously wrongly accused."