The New Orleans Saints want to find a successor for Drew Brees.
But they need to be careful not to draft a player too early into the last legs of Brees’s career. It’s a trick of timing: they need a player who will come into his own just as Brees comes out of his.
Consider Jimmy Garoppolo. The Patriots have a very tough decision to make on the soon-to-be free agent. On the one hand, you have Tom Brady claiming that he can play well into his mid-forties. That could mean five more years. And then you have father time claiming that Brady is out of his mind, and that the end will come sooner than he thinks.
So what to do with Garoppolo? If the Pats don’t pay the man, someone will. Yes, the Brock Osweiler escapade will give plenty of GMs pause, and with good reason. But you can only pause for so long on a quarterback prospect. Hell, Mike Glennon got $45M. Teams considered trading a first-round pick for Garoppolo. Someone will offer him well over $10M.
After years of grooming a Brady replacement, will the Patriots be content just to let him walk? I doubt it. But the other scenario has them paying $10+M a year for a player that may not even see the field during that entire contract.
That’s the situation the Saints could find themselves in if they draft Mahomes, Watson, or another top prospect. If Brees decides he still wants to go—and remember, Brees was the first to say that he thinks he can play until he’s 45—then the Saints are in a bind contract-wise.
Now, granted, the situation wouldn’t be QUITE as dire. If the Saints spend a first-round pick on a quarterback, Brees will be 43 when their contract expires. The Saints will likely have no problem gently showing him the door. But anything player the first round will be a free agent a year sooner.
Yes, we have no way of knowing when Brees will hit the wall. But if it is as late as he says, the Saints could have some decisions to juggle. Of course, we saw how this same situation played out with Brett Farve and Aaron Rodgers. I don’t expect Brees would go ring-chasing in his last years, and I wouldn’t complain if the next Saints quarterback has even a hint of Rodgers. But it’s something to consider.