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Trading or restructuring Drew Brees is not the answer for the New Orleans Saints

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The New Orleans Saints sure do draw some interesting chatter during the offseason, especially around quarterback Drew Brees. For those who haven’t been privy to the buzz surrounding the team, let me give you some fantastic examples of why the internet is scary.

For starters, a hilarious rumor involves the Saints supposedly being in the running for New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. There was a rumor floating out there that said the Giants were reportedly interested in Cam Jordan. While this seems to be an absolute dream scenario, the bottom line is there is nothing remotely credible or accurate with this claim. It’s all speculation.

My favorite rumor is that the Saints would trade up in the NFL Draft to get Marcus Mariota. It would involve a deal with the New York Jets and Drew Brees, according to the latest buzz. It’s hilarious because the Saints never had contact with Mariota at the NFL Combine, but they did with Jameis Winston. Now, that doesn’t automatically mean that he isn’t on their radar, but it is highly unlikely for such a coveted first round, top 10 pick.

I’ve heard many suggest that Drew Brees should stop being selfish, restructure his contract, take a pay cut, or be traded. In fact, I can’t go a day without hearing about it. Folks, trading Drew Brees away from the New Orleans Saints is not the answer, nor is it happening. Restructuring Brees is also not the answer, nor is it happening.

Let’s start with this. Drew Brees’ cap number impact this year and next year, which is his last with the New Orleans Saints.

2015: $26.4 million (Total Cap), $18.75 million (Total Base), $14.8 million (Dead Money, Pre-June 1) Cap Savings = ($7.15 million)

2016: $27.4 million (Total Cap), $19.75 million (Total Base), $7.4 million (Dead Money, Pre-June 1), Cap Savings = $20 million

If you’re going to suggest that a team is okay with absorbing this amount of cap space for a 36 year-old quarterback, then you’re dreaming. Furthermore, the Saints already have $21.65 million in dead money, as per Over the Cap. There’s little to no sense in making the problem worse than it already is.

The route of restructuring is only a temporary band-aid. What happens when a player restructures their contract is that the player is not out any less money. A player’s base salary is converted into the form of a signing bonus, and the rest of the money saved on the surface is prorated over the duration of the contract.

So, for Drew Brees, the money would be pushed only until next season, which would cause a giant salary cap hell. General manager Mickey Loomis has even publicly stated that restructuring Brees ‘wasn’t necessary’, even when Brees was willing to.

As far as an extension goes, you’re assuming that the Saints want to keep Brees past next season. It works just like a restructure, as it typically generates a new signing bonus, and they’re paid in addition to the player’s existing salary. The Saints will likely want to see what Drew Brees produces next season before they’ll look at shelling out more money for him.

If an employer asks you to take a pay cut, would you just simply be okay with that? If you suddenly had to give back well-deserved money, how would that make you feel? Sure, players around him like Marques Colston, Brodrick Bunkley, and David Hawthorne have all took pay cuts this season. However, we’re talking about a quarterback, arguably the league’s most important position. If you scan across the rest of the NFL’s quarterbacks, take a look at the figures that exist for this season.

Tony Romo, Dallas – Total Cap: $27.73 million
Drew Brees, New Orleans – Total Cap: $26.4 million
Eli Manning, NY Giants – Total Cap: $19.75 million
Matt Ryan, Atlanta – Total Cap: $19.5 million
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay – Total Cap: $18.25 million
Matthew Stafford, Detroit – Total Cap: $17.72 million
Peyton Manning, Denver – Total Cap: $17.5 million

To understand Brees’ current deal, let’s go back. After Brees played out his original six-year, $60 million contract following the 2011 NFL season (which included a $8 million signing bonus), many were wondering if Brees would leave New Orleans as the 2012 season approached. After all, Drew Brees earned a hefty pay-day.

The New Orleans Saints would use the franchise tag to secure their quarterback, but Brees stated that he would hold out if that were the case. Mickey Loomis and company were able to grant his wishes, shelling out a five-year, $100 million contract. The new deal gave Brees $60 million in guaranteed money, and a $37 million signing bonus. In the first year alone, Brees’ deal was worth $40 million. The bonus was worked into the mix as a pro-rated $7.4 million bonus annually.

So, when you think about where the team should go to help their situation out, what comes to mind?

Oct 5, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s talk about breakdowns. Why is Drew Brees under duress constantly? It’s plain to see. In the past two seasons with the Saints, he has been sacked a total of 66 times. For perspective, in his first four seasons with the Saints (2006-2009) he was sacked a total of 67 times. That’s one of the biggest reasons the Saints got Max Unger from the Seattle Seahawks. The center position has been unstable since 2010, dating back to when Jonathan Goodwin first left the team for San Francisco.

Think about it. The Saints acquired Olin Kreutz from Chicago, who later gave up playing football after only six games. Afterwards, we’d turn to Brian de la Puente, who was decent at best. I can’t find a post on a Saints Report forum that tells me about how good he was, just the issues at hand, giving up too much interior pressure.

That’s what the Saints experienced in 2013, when Brees was sacked a career high 37 times. It made no sense to feel comfortable in bringing back de la Puente in 2014, so the team opted for veteran Jonathan Goodwin, hoping that a reunion would ignite some stability on the front line. God bless Goody for his grit and persistence, but he just wasn’t what he once was, and it was evident taking on the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Haloti Ngota, and a host of other interior linemen.

Nov 24, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) talks to head coach Sean Payton in the first quarter of their game against the Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

We’re talking about a quarterback who nearly threw for 5,000 yards again. Brees finished second in the league in accuracy only behind Dallas’ Tony Romo, still completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. It’s not like his yards per attempt were low, as Brees finished with 7.5 yards per pass. That number wasn’t even remotely close to being a career low for him. It wasn’t even in the same ballpark.

Brees had a touchdown-interception ratio of 33:17, which ran a 2.6 interception percentage. That’s on par with his career figure. Speaking of interceptions, one could make the argument for Brees throwing picks at the worst times possible. I can definitely agree with that, and even went as far as to document the poor road success Brees has had back in October. Brees finished the season with four of his sixteen games ending with multi-interception stats: Tampa Bay (3), San Francisco (2), Atlanta (2), at Tampa Bay (3).

Are you honestly blaming Drew Brees for the Saints 7-9 record from last year? How? Despite your personal feelings, the Saints still finished with the first overall offense in the NFL in terms of yardage. They had the league’s third best passing attack, and were only complimented by the thirteenth best rushing attack. You’re focusing on the wrong side of the ball.

Drew Brees is the type of quarterback who has made the likes of David Patten, who was near the end of his playing career, flourish into nearly a 1,000-yard receiver. As the faces have come and gone, Brees has only elevated play from his receivers.

At the end of the day, you have to remember that Drew Brees and the Saints won a Super Bowl without Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills. Before there was Jimmy Graham, there was Jeremy Shockey. Before Kenny Stills emerged, it was Robert Meachem and Lance Moore filling those roles.

I personally don’t see a decline coming for Drew Brees in 2015. Why? Because the Saints are making moves to take the pressure off of him. That’s why they made the decision to bring back Mark Ingram for four years. That’s why they spent the money to bring in scat-back C.J. Spiller for the next four seasons. That’s ultimately why they went after a stellar center in a trade. Players around Drew Brees are replaceable. Brees himself is arguably irreplaceable at this point in time. He has the trust of coach Sean Payton, the love and backing from his city, and arguably the pieces on defense to help negate him from having to go into gunslinger mode in every game.

Please, let’s stop blaming the New Orleans Saints issues on one player. Let’s focus more on the fact that the team has a tremendous opportunity to build success for years to come by using their host of draft picks to find the players to help retool the offense accordingly.

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