It is altogether possible we have seen the last of Drew Brees on an NFL field?
According to ESPN's Dan Graziano, retirement is still a possibility for the 41-year old New Orleans Saints quarterback, who is now an unrestricted free agent.
Two weeks ago, just before he suited up for the Pro Bowl, Brees set a timetable on when he would make his ultimate decision. While he did not rule out retirement, he did rule out the possibility of playing for a team other than the Saints.
"At this stage of my career, it's not a given that I'm coming back every year, but when that time comes, I'll always be a Saint," he said to the New Orleans Advocate.
The idea of Drew Brees retiring is perplexing, considering the way his team has been eliminated from the playoff in three straight years in heartbreaking fashion. While he does have the one Super Bowl ring from 10 years ago, Brees doesn't seem like the type of competitor to walk away from the game after an experience like that. He may be 41 years old, but his performance last season showed us that he still has plenty of fight left in him.
Brees knows more about his body than we do, and if he thinks he needs to retire, so be it. But what's next for the Saints? Backup Teddy Bridgewater won all five games he started early in the 2019 season with Brees out with a wrist injury. And if that should fail, there's always Taysom Hill, the "utility man" who can line up just about anywhere on offense.
However, Bridgewater is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and the 69.7% completion rate he maintained through his five starts, along with a TD-Int rate of 9-2, should be enough to attract interest from the rest of the NFL. Bridgewater's previous deal contract was $7.25 million for one year, a value that should skyrocket if the Saints wish to keep him in New Orleans - especially if Brees retires and Bridgewater is expected to become the starter.
As for Hill, while he showed flashes of brilliance in the Saints' offense in 2019, very few of them were as a passer. Hill threw only seven passes this season. To his credit, four of them were completions, but that's not exactly a large sample size to judge a "quarterback's" talent, espcially when those throws came on gimmick plays. Where Hill did make waves was at the wide receiver position, where he caught 19 passes for 234 yards and six touchdowns.
Should the Saints strike out every which way, they could always turn to the free agent market. Quarterbacks such as Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, or Case Keenum could find plenty of advantages to playing in New Orleans if the price is right, but Saints fans should hope against all hope that it doesn't come to that.
The Saints also could look to the draft to pick their QB of the future. But this team is built to win now, not in three years from now. Until the Saints know Brees' plans, they'll be in limbo, a bad place for a team to be ahead of the draft and free agency.