By The Associated Press

When Drew Brees learned of Lions quarterback Matt Stafford’s five-year, $135 million extension, the Saints QB sent a text to his agent, Tom Condon, who also happens to be Stafford’s agent.

The one-word message to Condon read, “Wow,” Brees recalled this week.

Stafford is now the highest-paid NFL player, a title Brees held back in 2012 when Condon negotiated a five-year, $100 million deal for him. Now Brees is in his final year under contract with New Orleans, having agreed to a one-year extension last year as a short-term solution to New Orleans’ salary cap crunch at the time.

While Brees was impressed with Stafford’s deal, he wasn’t about to question it.

“The guy’s played great, you know. Last year was as impressive, I think, a run as a quarterback’s had in regards to finding ways to win games,” Brees said. “So he was the next guy up, and he got a huge contract.”

When asked how Stafford’s number might affect his next contract, the 38-year-old Brees asserted he’s “not even thinking about it.”

“Every circumstance is different,” Brees told reporters. “You guys know my stance on this, right? We’ve talked about this enough over the last couple months, right? I’m focused on football.”

Sean Payton, who has been Brees’ coach since 2006, saw Stafford’s contract as business as usual in the NFL.

“There’s a premium at that position. It’ll be a year or two, and then someone else will eclipse that benchmark, and it’s, I think, pretty expected,” Payton said, smiling as he added, “It’s good to be Tom Condon.”

JERSEY CEREMONY: Derek Carr will take a short break from preparations for the start of the season for the Oakland Raiders to receive an honor he’s dreamed about for years.

Carr will go back to Fresno State on Saturday night to have his No. 4 jersey retired in a ceremony at halftime of the Bulldogs’ season opener against Incarnate Ward.
Fresno State has played a big part in Carr’s life since the days he went to games there cheering big brother David, who previously had his jersey retired, and then when Derek starred at quarterback there.

“That’s going to be a special moment,” Carr said. “I’ve been thinking about it, too. I was like, ‘Man, I hope I don’t all of a sudden get randomly emotional.’ I literally dreamed of that since I was this tall. Every time I walked in that stadium for my brother’s games, I would tell my dad, ‘Yeah, they’re going to put Dave’s up there, but they’re going to put mine, too.’

“Then when I was there, it said, ‘Carr 8,’ obviously, every day I walked down that ramp. I said, ‘They’re going to put my name right next to that.’ It drove me.”

GOOD READING: NFL fans looking for something more than games and fantasy teams should consider two books that recently hit the shelves.

Gary Myers of the New York Daily News came up with an original idea in his latest: “My First Coach (Inspiring Stories of NFL Quarterbacks and Their Dads).” His tome is an examination of the relationships between several pro QBs and their fathers, and while it’s not groundbreaking, it certainly is entertaining.

The best material centers on Phil Simms’ strong relationship with his two quarterback sons, Chris and Matt, who have both played in the NFL, and Phil’s struggles to communicate with his own father when Phil was developing as a player. Also, the emotionally charged memories Brett Favre has of his late father and coach, Irv, are highlights.

Thomas George’s “Blitz,” with a foreword by Warren Moon and an afterword by Tony Dungy also is a fun read. George examines why rookie quarterbacks have become starters so often in the past 15 or so seasons; no QB had won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award until Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger took it in 2004.

George’s timing is impeccable, and his fourth chapter focuses on the sensational season Dak Prescott had for Dallas last year. But the best material is in Chapter 5, titled “Shattered Dreams,” in which George examines such failures as Todd Marinovich, David Klingler, Rick Mirer and Heath Shuler, then devotes plenty of room to Ryan Leaf — probably the poster child for youthful failure behind center.

JERSEY SALES: Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston appears to be benefiting from the Buccaneers’ turn on HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”

As the third-year pro’s personality comes through on the reality TV series, sales of his jersey according to DICK’S Sporting Goods’ Jersey Report have risen dramatically. Two weeks ago, Winston stood 66th in weekly jersey sales for the league. The next week, he jumped up to No. 36, and this week he has cracked the top 25 at No. 22.

Teammate Mike Evans joined the top 100 by moving from 114th to 78th. As a result, the Bucs climbed in team sales from 27th to 19th.

In the rookie parade since the draft in April, the AFC North is the place to look before any real games have been staged. Steelers running back James Conner is tops among newcomers, followed by top overall selection DE Myles Garrett of Cleveland, and Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt. Watt trails brother J.J. a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, by a mere two spots on the overall defensive player list for jersey sales since the NFL draft.

200TH GAME: Yes, it’s being played on a Thursday night. Still, NBC is ballyhooing the season’s kickoff game of Kansas City at New England as the 200th regular-season telecast in its “Sunday Night Football” package.

Fair enough, considering some of those 200 have not been played on Sundays, including Thanksgiving games.

The highest-rated show on television, NBC’s program has seen the Cowboys (38), Giants (30) and Steelers (28) featured most often.

NBC’s first offering was on Sept. 7, 2006, the Thursday night kickoff game with the Dolphins at the Steelers. It was the network’s first regular-season game since the 1997 season.

Three nights later was the “Sunday Night Football” opener of the Colts against the Giants in the first meeting between Peyton and Eli Manning, a 26-21 Indianapolis victory.

Game 199 was in last season’s finale, Green Bay’s NFC North-clinching 31-24 victory over Detroit on Jan. 1.
___
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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