Jay Glazer reported that Drew Brees would be retiring at the conclusion of the New Orleans Saints' playoff run, so we all sort of assumed the future Hall of Fame quarterback would limp into the sunset. Especially after running out of gas and looking very much like someone with incurable arm-strength issues and a dramatically descending ceiling.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the retirement party. We never heard the magic words from Brees. In fact, he's projecting all the outward signs of a person determined to take another lap. Over the weekend evidence emerged of the 42-year-old pushing a sled on a residential street like the type of neighbor who would be a main character on the Nextdoor app.
There's this middle aged guy pushing something up and down the street and I had to wait for him to move so I could pull into my driveway. Anyone know who this is?
So is it possible that Brees has every intention of returning? And if so, should the Saints want him back against the backdrop of his diminished returns and a historically deep transfer market at the position? My gut reaction — one widely shared as conventional wisdom six weeks ago — was no, they should not. Good Morning Football's Peter Schrager isn't so sure.
His word of warning to Saints fans? Be careful what you wish for. Remember the trials and tribulations of the Denver Broncos after waving goodbye to a duck-throwing-yet-Super-Bowl-winning Peyton Manning.
Schrager makes some fair points. Brees did have New Orleans in position to advance to the NFC Championship Game if Jared Cook hadn't been struck by the fumble bug. Yet it's tough to imagine Brees would have been able to win a game in cold, windy Lambeau and it's tougher to imagine he'll be in a place to do it almost a year from now at age 43. Unless he pulls something out of the Ponce de León-Tom Brady Fountain of Youth-dipped playbook.
Institutional knowledge and loyalty are essential things yet they can also be obstacles to making hard, necessary decisions. If the Saints truly think they can do better than Brees, they should move on. At a certain point a franchise can't he held hostage by a hometown hero pulling a George Costanza, continuing to show up to work as though nothing happened.
The Broncos are a cautionary tale. Yet that team was able to win a Super Bowl on defense alone. The Saints aren't.
It's true that people often tend to regret their wishes. But that doesn't change the fact that New Orleans should be hoping for an upgrade at the quarterback position. If that doesn't materialize and Brees does, in fact, wish to return, he's a fantastic backup plan. He just shouldn't the Plan A.