Guarantees kick in Wednesday for Drew Brees, Jahri Evans

Drew Brees,who threw for 4,870 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2015, is heading into the final year of his contract. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints will put their money where their mouth is Wednesday when $10.85 million of Drew Brees’ salary becomes fully guaranteed.

Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis have insisted that Brees isn’t going anywhere, even though he is due $20 million in 2016 with a salary-cap cost of $30 million. Wednesday’s deadline will virtually guarantee that Brees isn’t getting cut -- not that anyone should have considered that a realistic possibility, anyway.

The bigger question with Brees is whether or not he will work out a long-term contract extension with the Saints this offseason, since he is heading into the final year of his contract.

Brees, 37, told ESPN last week that no such talks have taken place yet. And a source said Wednesday’s deadline won’t serve as a mandate to get an extension done this week.

More likely, the Saints will aim to get an extension done before the start of free agency on March 15 so they can use it to cut down Brees’ salary-cap cost for 2016. The Saints are roughly $10 million over the projected salary cap, which should be a little more than $150 million per team.

An extension seems like a no-brainer for both Brees and the Saints. However, deciding on the price tag could prove difficult. Brees’ current average of $20 million per year was the richest deal in NFL history when he signed it in 2012. But now it ranks ninth among NFL quarterbacks, behind the likes of Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco.

Brees would likely earn more than $20 million per year on the open market, so he could rightfully demand a raise in his next deal. He is still playing at a high level after leading the NFL with 4,870 passing yards in 2015.

However, the negotiations could be complicated by the fact that Tom Brady accepted well below market value in a similar contract extension with the New England Patriots in 2013. The final three years of Brady’s deal wound up being worth only $10 million per year.

My suggestion is he receives another three years at the same $20 million per year, which is a slight “hometown discount” but not exactly a pay cut.

In other contract news to look out for:

Guard Jahri Evans deadline is Wednesday: Evans also has a total of $3 million that will become fully guaranteed Wednesday. And Evans’ status is much more uncertain than Brees.

I expect Evans to stay, since he already took a sizable pay cut last year to remain in New Orleans. He had a decent year in 2015, and the Saints don’t have an obvious replacement waiting in the wings.

However, the six-time Pro Bowler is 32-years-old now, and he is due a total of $4.9 million this year. So it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Saints move on, especially considering their tight cap situation.

Evans didn’t expect to be going anywhere when he talked about his future late last season.

“Listen, me and Coach Payton talked this offseason,” Evans said at the time. “And I don’t think I’m going anywhere. Trust me, I doubt if that happens.”

Other possible cuts: The Saints don’t have to get under the salary cap until March 15. But since they apparently already let cornerback Brandon Browner know last week that he will be released, other moves could happen anytime.

The most likely candidates for pay cuts or releases are linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and David Hawthorne, receiver Marques Colston and offensive tackle Zach Strief.

Other possibilities for pay cuts or releases include safety Jairus Byrd, running back C.J. Spiller and punter Thomas Morstead.