Star quarterback Drew Brees re-signed with the Saints for another year this past week, an eventuality many other teams always expected. But that doesn't mean they were not following what became a long saga of negotiations closely on the off chance the potential Hall of Famer actually played out a lame-duck season.

Brees, 37, was set for his contract to expire in March, barring the extension, and at one point in the lengthy talks with the Saints -- with no progress made for months -- his representatives began mulling potential suitors in 2017, sources said, had the stalemate continued, Arizona was tops on their list (the Cardinals would eventually sign Carson Palmer to an extension). Brees gave an edict that he would not negotiate with the Saints in-season, and the odds of signing him after the season -- so close to being able to hit the open market -- would not have been as great.

The Jets would have been willing to explore a deal with Brees had he reached free agency, sources said, with Ryan Fitzpatrick in the final year of his deal. Miami is another team that other NFL general managers had identified as a strong potential suitor for Brees, along with Denver, depending on the development of the Broncos' two inexperienced quarterbacks.