The New Orleans Saints report to training camp on July 27, and the anticipation will continue to build over the next month. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll start breaking down all the positions and hopefuls for the final roster.
What better way to start breaking down the 90-man roster than with the quarterback spot? Yes, it almost feels like a given that Drew Brees is the unheralded starter for the black and gold. No one over the past decade was ever going to push him for a starting spot on the Saints roster. However, we’ve witnessed a lot of interesting battles for the backup and third quarterback.
Drew Brees, 16th season
Last season, it was unfortunate to see Drew Brees miss his first game with the Saints since 2009 (Carolina Panthers – Week 17 finale). The 37-year-old quarterback battled what was believed to be a serious shoulder injury and foot injury to still put up strong numbers in 2015. Brees was able to lower his interception totals year over year from 17 down to 11, and just finished one touchdown shy of his 2014 passing touchdown mark (33). Arguably, had Brees played in that one extra game, he would have finished with over 5,000 yards passing.
Although it’s the last year of Brees’ contract, optimism exists for the two parties to reach some type of long-term deal. Brees is the starting quarterback for the Saints, and there’s not much else to say about what he can do to opposing defenses. After gaining a host of offensive weapons at his discretion, the only concern for Brees is the uncertainty of his offensive line.
Luke McCown, 13th season
Veteran Luke McCown had a very interesting roller coaster ride with the Saints in 2015. After solidifying himself as the team’s No. 2 option last year, McCown found himself having to jump in to start for the team in Week 3 against the Carolina Panthers. McCown had a very solid game, much to the surprise of many. After Brees came back into the mix, McCown would return to his backup duties until he faced a season-ending back injury that required surgery in early November.
Despite becoming a free agent and a visit with the Indianapolis Colts, McCown was re-signed by the Saints on March 10 on a two-year deal worth $3 million, which included a $500,000 signing bonus. The soon-to-be 35-year-old quarterback definitely has favor with head coach Sean Payton, but will have to fend off the up-and-comer.
Garrett Grayson, 2nd season
While Sean Payton has stated the team could look at a fourth option for training camp, Garrett Grayson has to feel pretty good about the opportunity that lies before him. As a rookie, Grayson was under fire by many critics. Yes, the third-round draft pick out of Colorado State was only active for one game in 2015 (Washington), and spent the majority of the season as a healthy inactive. Yes, he wasn’t called upon when the team faced uncertainty with a Drew Brees injury and turned to veteran Matt Flynn.
That was 2015. However, a growing thought kept evolving during the offseason that the Saints should have drafted a quarterback early, and just take one period. I looked at why Grayson kept getting snubbed back in May, which puts things into perspective for the naysayers.
Early reports out of OTAs and minicamp is that Grayson is progressing, which is a good sign. He may not be ready to start in Week 1, but as long as he keeps putting together good things and developing, then there’s a lot to love about what his future holds.
The bottom line is that Grayson is in a prime position to take over as the team’s primary backup, but like last season, he’ll have to win the job.
Overall, as long as Drew Brees is the starting quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, the position will always be solid. Right now, 2016 is no different.