The New Orleans Saints are on the cusp of ending a four-year playoff drought and clinching a postseason berth. In an era when players come and go every year, the one constant for the Saints has been Drew Brees at the quarterback position.
For the past 12 seasons, he has sustained an elite level of performance when the team was at its best and its worst. Age and Father Time have left the door ajar regarding his future in New Orleans. The 38-year-old quarterback is entering the final year of his contract, and there is some speculation the Saints could take a cheaper and younger option in the draft.
None of those options are better than a soon-to-be 11-time Pro Bowler in the short-term picture. They might not even be better in the long–term picture. New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady is setting a new precedent: He’s 40 years old and still looking like the best quarterback in the NFL.
Things are different in the league, and defensive players aren’t allowed to tee off on quarterbacks the way they used to. Like Brady, Brees has been lucky to avoid serious injuries. It’s foreseeable that he could continue to play at a high level into his 40s as well.
That’s something the Saints will have to take into consideration when they meet him at the negotiating table after the season.
One of the arguments for letting Brees go is the emergence of rookie running back Alvin Kamara alongside veteran Mark Ingram, the source of a renewed focus on the run game. However, Ingram and Kamara’s success is in part due to the lethality of the passing attack. It’s pick your poison against the Saints. Load up the box and get carved up by Brees. Back off and get the ball shoved down your throat by Ingram and Kamara.
Brees obviously wants to re-sign with the Saints. His relationship with head coach Sean Payton is as special as they come. Together, they helped turn a perennially bad franchise into a championship team. It’s only fitting they both see it through to the end.
“I feel like we’ve got a great opportunity ahead of us and I don’t plan on leaving New Orleans ever,” Brees said during an appearance on XTRA 1360 AM, per Pro Football Talk. “Hopefully, I know all of that stuff takes care of itself when it’s supposed to. I have not approached them about any contract. We just have a great understanding here. Listen, we’re going to go through this season and we’ll revisit it in the offseason. For right now, I’m in the moment.”
Whether Brees agrees to a pay cut or the Saints meet him halfway, the two sides will eventually figure out a way to get a deal done. We aren’t seeing the last of Brees in a Saint uniform, especially if the team manages to make the playoffs.
Another turnaround is in the works for Brees and Payton, who both have every intention of nabbing one more Lombardi Trophy before they’re done.