Brees made the announcement Sunday on social media. In a video posted to Instagram, Brees' four children said: "After 15 years with the Saints and 20 years in the NFL, our dad is finally going to retire. So he can spend more time with us!"
Brees captioned the post with a lengthy message that read:
"After 20 years as a player in the NFL and 15 years as a Saint, it is time I retire from the game of football. Each day, I poured my heart & soul into being your quarterback. Til the very end, I exhausted myself to give everything I had to the Saints organization, my team and the great city of New Orleans. We shared some amazing moments together, many of which are emblazoned in our hearts and minds and will forever be a part of us.
"You have molded me, strengthened me, inspired me, and given me a lifetime of memories. My goal for the last 15 years was striving to give to you everything you had given to me and more. I am only retiring from playing football, I am not retiring from New Orleans. This is not goodbye, rather a new beginning. Now my real life's work begins!"
The 42-year-old Brees finishes his career with 80,358 passing yards. He also ranks second in league history in touchdown passes (571) and completion percentage (67.7%).
Brees guided the Saints to a Super Bowl championship in the 2009-10 season. He was named Most Valuable Player in New Orleans' 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
Brees, a 13-time Pro Bowl selection, never returned to the Super Bowl despite leading the Saints to four consecutive NFC South division titles over the last four years. His final game was a 30-20 loss to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC divisional round this year.