It’s time for the Saints to lock up their franchise quarterback long-term. (Jim Prisching/AP)

Now they need to turn their attention to bringing back the man who has led one of the top offenses in the NFL over the last several years — quarterback Drew Brees.

The Super Bowl XLIV MVP and face of the franchise QB went toe-to-toe with Aaron Rodgers in Thursday’s 42-34 shootout to open the season. Brees was 32 of 49 for 419 yards and three touchdowns, completing at least four passes to six different receivers.

That’s the kind of production the Saints have come to expect from the 32-year-old, and the reason they need to move forward with their contract negotiations. Earlier this week, ESPN reported that the Saints failed to get a deal done before the start of the season, leaving lingering uncertainty for a player whose six-year, $60 million contract expires at the end of the season.

As the Patriots did with Tom Brady and the Colts recent did with the now-shelved Peyton Manning, you have to figure the Saints will find a way to re-sign Brees long-term. Not only has his play transformed the Saints — the Saints have four playoff victories with Brees at quarterback and had just one before his arrival — but he’s become the face of the franchise and an important figure within the city of New Orleans.

Brees’ agent, Tom Condon, has been in talks with the Saints, but so far the two sides remain far apart. For comparison’s sake, last fall New England gave Tom Brady a four-year, $72 million contract with $48.5 million guaranteed. Eli Manning is in the second year of a six-year, $97.5 million deal and brother Peyton just signed a five-year, $90 million contract extension at the end of July. Brees is no doubt after a similar figure.