ORLANDO, Fla. -- New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl quarterback and former Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees continues to insist that he's not going anywhere. On Thursday, he made it clear again who he wants to play for in 2018.
“New Orleans Saints,” Brees said at Pro Bowl practices. “I’m not going anywhere else.”
Brees is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March and has indicated throughout the offseason that he wants to return to New Orleans, something general manager Mickey Loomis echoed at Senior Bowl practices this week.
“We want him to be our quarterback, and we'll get going on that at some point,” Loomis said. “We just finished our season. ... We'll get to it. I'm not anticipating any big issues, so we'll see."
Brees is happy with the young crop of offensive talent the Saints have in wide receiver Michael Thomas and running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara -- who are all at the Pro Bowl with him -- and believes it bodes well heading into next year, along with their defense.
“I feel good about it,” Brees said. “I know the pieces are there but it’s the mindset coming in every year. You never start where you finish. You never start off where you finished the preseason before. You start over. You’ve gotta re-establish your identity, you’ve gotta come in with a growth mindset that, ‘We’ve gotta get better and we’ve gotta get better faster than everybody else.’”
This year, Brees threw for 23 touchdowns -- 11th in the league and his fewest in the regular season since 2007. And while his passing yards may have also taken a dip from the 5,208 he had in 2016, that can be attributed to Ingram and Kamara’s rushing production, where they become the first set of running-back teammates to each have 1,500 scrimmage yards in the same season.
The yardage isn’t the focus for Brees anyway. It’s all about efficiency, which Brees has mastered, reclaiming the NFL’s single-season completion percentage at 72 percent this season, the highest for him in a full regular season.
“Bottom line is how efficient you can be with what you’re asked to do. And at the end of the day, what is your ultimate goal? “Brees said. “The ultimate goal is to win. It’s not to throw for 5,000 yards. It’s to win. So I don’t care. I don’t care about yardage. I care about completion percentage because that tells me if I’m being efficient.
“Completions are positive plays -- that means first downs, that means points. So I look at that and say, ‘There’s something important about that.’ But at the end of the day, it’s about, ‘How do I move the football? How do I put my team in position to score points and to win games?’”
An area Brees would like to see improvement next year is on third down.
“If you look at our third-down percentage, it wasn’t as good as what we’re used to,” Brees said. “We’re used to being almost 50 percent, top two or three teams in the league.”
The Saints converted 37.6 percent of their third downs in 2017, 19th in the league. Last year, they were first in the league at 48.6 percent. In terms of rushing and passing on third down, the Saints finished the regular season at 40 percent on third down rushing and 37 percent passing.
ESPN’s Mike Triplett contributed to this report.