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Quarterback calls: Brees stays with Saints, Keenum to Denver

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees reacts with fans after a 2016 NFL game in San Diego.

Associated Press file photo

Drew Brees is staying put in the Big Easy. Case Keenum is headed to the Rocky Mountains.

Kirk Cousins? His first visit as a free agent will be to Minnesota, with the Vikings long considered a natural landing spot for one of the most valuable quarterbacks.

One day before the league’s new year begins, quarterbacks are again stealing the spotlight, starting with Brees.

The Saints star has agreed to a two-year, $50 million extension with New Orleans, with $27 million guaranteed the first year, two people familiar with the contract told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the agreement has not been announced.

Brees is 39 and wants to finish his career in New Orleans, where he has played since 2006, won a Super Bowl and led what has been one of the most productive offenses in the NFL since he and coach Sean Payton arrived.

“I’ll be here as long as they’ll have me,” Brees said after last season ended.

In 2017, Brees completed an NFL-record 72 percent of his passes for 4,334 yards and 23 touchdowns against eight interceptions. He ranked fourth in the NFL in yards passing and the Saints ranked second in the NFL in total offense.

Keenum, a backup when the season began, guided Minnesota to the NFC North title and then into the conference championship game. He’ll cash in with the Broncos.

The 30-year-old Keenum is considered the second-best QB available in free agency. He went 11-3 with 3,547 yards passing, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His last-second throw to Stefon Diggs stunned the Saints 29-24 in the playoffs.

Denver chose to bypass incumbents Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch and go for Keenum, who can’t sign until Wednesday.

Six years ago, GM John Elway landed Peyton Manning, the biggest free-agent prize in NFL history, following his release by the Colts and a series of neck fusion surgeries. Manning guided the Broncos to two Super Bowls and won the 2015 NFL championship. Now, Elway hopes another free agent will replicate Manning.

Cousins will visit with the Vikings on Wednesday, agent Mike McCartney said. ESPN reported that Cousins will sign with the Vikings, but McCartney said no decision has been made yet by his client.

The Jets and Cardinals also make sense as fits for the 29-year-old who played consecutive seasons for Washington on franchise tags. New York also has shown interest in Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater and Arizona has done the same with Minnesota’s Sam Bradford.

In other moves:

  • Super Bowl champion Philadelphia lost two tight ends, cutting veteran Brent Celek, then saw Trey Burton agree to a four-year, $32 million contract with Chicago. The Bears also will be signing Jacksonville receiver Allen Robinson on Wednesday and placekicker Cody Parkey.
  • Buffalo bolstered its interior defensive line, agreeing to a deal with Carolina tackle Star Lotulelei and re-signing Kyle Williams, who contemplated retirement.
  • Kansas City will add wide receiver Sammy Watkins and middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens, filling two glaring needs.

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