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(Photo on file: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) drops back to pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in New Orleans.)

Nice of the NFL to step up in this time of extreme need for sports.

I guess it's a sport.

No games, of course.

But at least it's a welcome break from the steady stream of cancellations and indefinite postponements.

In these trying times, it qualifies as "breaking news."

Yes, we've been reduced to following closely what is now known as the NFL's "tampering season" — legal, best I can tell, so long as no trash cans are involved — as the league goes about its annual game of musical chairs to rearrange via free agency.

These adjustments, the prelude to the really big show, the draft, are here this spring apparently to fill the void.

But, really, with much of the nation's common folk worried about job security and wondering how low the stock market can go, maybe's it's not the best look for the NFL having its multi-millionaire pawns haggling publicly with its billionaire owners.

Is this really the time the average American needs to be hearing about $25-million free-agent "bargains" or somebody accepting "below market value" in settling for $10 million a year?

Fortunately we've all been immunized, so to speak, numbed to the figures they toss about when "getting paid."

It might as well be Monopoly money.

And it might help your team win if they ever do play again.

So it's acceptable "breaking news" for a nation crying out for sports, any sports, any form of it.

Drew Brees was one of those bargains, though hardly unexpected, when the 41-year-old quarterback took below-market value in getting $50 million for two more years with the Saints.

This particular $50 million is being passed off as a home-town discount by the face of Saints, his sacrifice more proof that he's not in it for "real money" any more, but willing to free up more money for his team to put players around him capable of capturing that elusive second Super Bowl for the franchise.

OK. Works for me.

It was a foregone conclusion, but at least it's official now.

Can't imagine the Saints without Brees. Can't imagine Brees anywhere but New Orleans, huddling on the sidelines with Sean Payton.

It would be like if Tom Brady and Bill Belichick suddenly …

Ooops. Wait a minute. Bad example.

Did I get that right?

Tom Brady is no longer a New England Patriot?

Again, not totally unexpected. Brady will really test the free-agent market and many expect him to land in Tampa Bay.

Oh, and if Saints fans were hoping for the unfathomable by keeping über-popular backup Teddy Bridgewater with Brees, it's not going to happen.

They'll focus on keeping Taysom Hill long term as the do-everything pest and quarterback-in-waiting when Brees finally retires, perhaps sometime this century.

It's seems likely Hill stay.

But to keep all three would surely blow right through the NFL's "popular good guy" cap.

Still, the NFC South quarterback room sure got a lot more interesting.

Bridgewater will be with the Carolina Panthers, who'll apparently trade Cam Newton.

That's a dilemma for the Who Dat nation, which loved to boo and heckle Newton through his trials and many errors against the Saints.

Newton was always an easy target. And Saints fans will miss him in a masochistic sort of way.

Bridgewater is a different deal. Saints fans love him, adore him. He became a cult figure winning all five games while filling in for the injured Brees last season. And it's not like he abandoned them. He'd likely still be there if Brees had retired. Nobody begrudges him his chance to start … and get paid.

Good things and good money happening to good people.

But he will still be a Panther, and surely Saints fans will come around to, if not hating him, at least wishing him ill.

It's also interesting if Brady lands in Tampa Bay.

It'll be easy for Saints' fans to get their dander up about him, especially if he's side by side against Brees twice a year as they duel for all-time this and that in the NFL career record book.

But the Who Dats always seemed to take particular glee in getting in Jameis Winston's head. It had almost become a Saints tradition.

But at least the best Saints tradition ­— Brees and Payton — isn't going anywhere.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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