In reality, the fact that Drew Brees opened this season as the Saints’ starting quarterback comes as a surprise.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Brees had told teammates after last season that he planned to retire, only to rescind that commitment by signing a brand-new contract with the team.
Brees is slated to broadcast games for NBC as soon as next year, just suffered eleven fractured ribs, and has already seen his arm strength decline significantly. In other words, the odds are extremely high that this season will be his last.
Should Brees decide to return, the Saints would have to do some reshuffling; his cap hit is $36 million for next season. Furthermore, is he actually going to be their best option?
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His inability to push the ball down the field has been a consistent problem for the offense this season, as with the league’s lowest average depth of target, the offense became very predictable and extremely reliant on running back Alvin Kamara’s abilities after the catch.
In fact, receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders had been completely disregarded compared to Kamara. Plus, if his arm strength has already declined this much, how badly could the drop-off be next year?
The Saints’ main mistake with Brees has been consistently pushing the can down the road. I understand the temptation to structure his contract in a way that opened up immediate cap space to help push for a Super Bowl championship.
However, as the team has learned the hard way, football is a game with far too much variance, and now, they’ll be paying Brees some amount of money regardless of if he plays or not.
As we’ll get to, their commitment to him has limited their ability to find his successor, and it is becoming more likely by the day that they don’t experience any of the short-term benefits they hoped to gain from this strategy.