The New Orleans Saints are rumored to be coming to a crossroads, with Drew Brees headed toward free agency and the team looking at the possibility of moving forward without their franchise quarterback — and, quite possibly, their coach as well.
Brees is playing out the final year of his contract and is set to become a free agent in 2018, with his contract preventing the Saints from using the franchise tag to keep him beyond this year. While there is not yet any solid indication of what the Saints plan to do, there are small but growing rumors that the team may actually let Brees walk and move into a much-needed rebuild.
The Saints have been 7-9 for each of the last three seasons, and are growing further and further removed from their Super Bowl victory with Brees at the helm. The Saints have been hampered a bit in their rebuilding process by Brees’ giant contract, but he is now on just a one-year extension and the Saints could have an opportunity to get out from under his contract and put the money toward other rebuilding efforts.
Keeping Brees next year would be especially costly, Pro Football Talk noted. The Saints already have $18 million against the cap next year in Brees’ name, and a new contract would only add more to that. The report noted that, if he were to sign a $20 million deal, the team would have $38 million assigned to Brees.
Brees said in the offseason that his focus is only on the current season, helping the Saints get back to the playoffs and ultimately win another Super Bowl. But the team looks far from contenders, and Brees could be very attractive for a team that is just a quarterback away from being a Super Bowl contender.
Pro Football Talk speculated that Drew Brees may ultimately end up following Sean Payton, who may also be on his way out of New Orleans.
“What if this year is the year that ultimately becomes Sean Payton’s final year with the Saints? (Surely, there will be a ‘Sunday splash’ report at some point this year to that effect.) If Payton leaves for a team that needs a quarterback (and most teams that fire their head coaches do), could Brees follow?”
While the rumors surrounding the New Orleans Saints and their plans for Drew Brees are not yet clear, it does seem the 38-year-old quarterback is still headed to a big payday. As NBC Sports noted, Brees has been keeping a close eye on the quarterback market and reportedly sent Matthew Stafford (with whom he shares agent Tom Condon) a note of congratulations when he signed the biggest contract in NFL history.
Drew Brees' contract doesn't allow Saints to use franchise tag on him after this season, per sources:... https://t.co/YYgl6PQh4Z— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 10, 2017
The indication seems to be that when Brees becomes a free agent, he will garner his own giant payday.
“The question now is whether Brees can expect to see even more money than Stafford on his next contract,” the NBC Sports report noted. “Given that Brees is 38 and Stafford is 29, there’s no way Brees will get more total money or more guaranteed money than Stafford. But on a short-term deal, Brees may average more per year than Stafford. Brees is surely pleased to see Stafford re-set the top of the market.”
Whatever happens, it’s likely that the rumors surrounding Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints will only intensify as the season goes on.
[Featured Image by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]