Quietly, Drew Brees moves toward free agency

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Healthy franchise quarterbacks don’t hit the open market. Next year, two of them could.

In addition to Washington’s Kirk Cousins (who threw for more than 4,900 yards last season), Saints quarterback Drew Brees could be available to the highest bidder and/or the best chance to pursue another Super Bowl.

Last year, as Brees was entering the final year of his contract, he signed a one-year extension. Which now puts him in the same place he was a year ago — one season removed from free agency. This time around, however, there is no discussion about an extension.

“Listen, so I signed a one-year extension, so that was this year and then next year,” Brees said in January. “And so I plan on playing that out and just allowing things to take form and take shape here for next year and putting forth my absolute best effort to help us win a division championship and then a world championship. And then, again, just one year at a time, and that’s not a lack of commitment or anything like that. It’s just, I just want to focus on what’s right in front of me.”

Later in the month of January, G.M. Mickey Loomis said the team is fine with that approach.

Here’s where that approach is leading. Given the presence of a no-trade clause and a commitment not to tag Brees in 2018, he has one year under contract with the Saints. After that, who knows what will happen?

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?

Whether Brees stays in New Orleans or not, $18 million will count against the team’s salary cap in 2018 in his name. The cap charge from a new deal would only add to that. Which means that, if he has for example a cap charge of $20 million in 2018, the Saints would have $38 million assigned to Brees next year.

The broader question becomes whether Brees will still be regarded as a franchise quarterback after the 2017 season, when he’ll be closing in on his 39th birthday. But at a time when folks marvel at the ability of Tom Brady to thrive on the brink of 40, few seem to notice that Brees continues to be as good as ever.

In 2016, Brees had his latest 5,000-yard passing season. He’s done it five times; the rest of the NFL, since its inception, has produced a total of four.

Chances are that there will be plenty of interest in Brees come March, in New Orleans and elsewhere. Chances are that he’ll also end up getting paid a lot of money in his final NFL season before turning 40.

44 responses to “Quietly, Drew Brees moves toward free agency

  1. Arizona absorbed a lot of the Katrina refugees. He might want to get out of the Looz-anna humidity

  2. 7/8 years ago these guys won something,
    That’ a long time to not be competing for anything. Probably bugs these guys more than the let on.

  3. He is good friends with Brady and hopefully is using the same age defying diet and exercise. If anyone deserves to stick around to wave Goodell into retirement it’s those two.

  4. Way to go Brees…..get that final big payday and leave the Saints holding an 18 million dollar bag of poor future planning!!!!!

  5. Finally…… an interesting July/NFL story. People just assume he’ll be a Saint until retirement. Not so fast, I guess.

  6. He should be thrilled about the franchise tag. The average of the top five QB’s? And he isn’t even a top fifteen QB.
    ====

    Not sure what League you’re watching?

    Name 5 QBs better than he is?

  7. All the great QBs look as good as ever until they hit the wall and suddenly don’t. Brady and Brees can exercise and diet all they want but 40 is still 40 in the NFL unless you’re a kicker. Will be very surprised if either makes it through this coming season without an injury that reduces games played. Once that happens, they’ll probably move on to another team like many greats of the past and eventually sign a dollar contract to retire as a PAT and SAINT. It has been a joy to watch them both.

  8. When your defense sucks, you have to throw 50 times a game and your game plan is centered around you achieving statistical goals, rather than actually winning games, 5k yards a season isn’t very impressive. His greed and terrible contracts for NOLA has doomed them for the past few seasons. The best thing NOLA could ever do is get rid of him and move on.

  9. He’s simply being diplomatic. The Saints are not that close to contending, he’s nearing the end, and everyone saw what Manning did with Denver. Next offseason he’s very likely to look for a team (KC, HOU, MIN, among others) that is good except at QB.

    Unless the Saints surprisingly contend in 2017, they’ll be fine letting him and Payton walk so they can reboot their roster and salary cap.

  10. Anybody can throw for 5,000 yards when they throw 800 short passes and let the receivers do all the work. His rag arm is done.

  11. I don’t think that the salary is the sole consideration. The ability of the team’s defense, proximity to his business interests in NO and outside opportunities will likely play a big part in his decision. Brees and his family are entrenched in New Orleans with community adulation, endorsement deals (Forbes says he made $11 million last year in endorsement deals), current and future investments (Pepsi dealership or nutrition shakes?), low cost of living (New Orleans is 42% cheaper than Southern California NOT including taxes). I could see him in Houston (Cost of Living LOWER than New Orleans with an easy transition for most of the outside business income).

  12. Brees is wise to go to a team with a stellar D.

    Its fun to watch these athlete’s risk $ for competition purposes, even after they have rung the till. If you love playing, keep on playing.

    Just don’t expect the team to play nice. A “no-tag” expectation can change in a moment’s flat. They won’t take that $18M dead-money, unless they don’t want to pay him the tag dough or $38-ish Mill overall in 2018.

    Brees could waive the no-trade clause if he is headed to a destination he likes. Can the team make another team take that $18M hook in the process?

  13. Donkeys should trade for him now. he’d give the pats a run for their money this year and next. provided the coaching move pans out

  14. He should be thrilled about the franchise tag. The average of the top five QB’s? And he isn’t even a top fifteen QB.

    Do you watch the NFL?

    “Anybody can throw for 5,000 yards when they throw 800 short passes and let the receivers do all the work. His rag arm is done.”

    No you’re thinking of TB12, except for the 5,000 yard thing.

  15. I don’t think his contact drafted all of those poor defenders or signed Jarius Byrd for $30M. Instead on criticizing the best player on the team who consistently produces 28+ points a game, maybe you should criticize the GM

  16. For all of you clowns with the salty comments, the guy is the purest pocket passer EVER, yes ever, first ballot HOF. Instead of bashing the guy, enjoy what he displays on the field every single Sunday while we still have him in the league, Oh and BTW, I bet yall would take him on your team in a heartbeat….

    OH and finally, you tube his 2016 highlights on YT, then tell me about his noddle arm. SMH

    Also, NFL is in a bind, the best passing ever witnessed was over the last 15 years, don’t know if it will ever be that way again.

  17. Elway will sign him to 2 year contract worth $120 million, he is that desperate for a QB.

  18. While I don’t blame him for grabbing every available dollar on the table, I also don’t blame the Saints for thinking that it might be time to go in another direction and free up some of that money to do some badly needed rebuilding.

  19. ajames35 says:
    Jul 11, 2017 2:15 PM

    He’s simply being diplomatic. The Saints are not that close to contending, he’s nearing the end, and everyone saw what Manning did with Denver. Next offseason he’s very likely to look for a team (KC, HOU, MIN, among others) that is good except at QB.

    Unless the Saints surprisingly contend in 2017, they’ll be fine letting him and Payton walk so they can reboot their roster and salary cap.
    ___________________________________
    Brees has the same agent Manning did. Manning went year to year at the end of his career. He didn’t leave the Colts, they simply didn’t bring him back.

  20. The Saints should offer voting stock to keep him. The thought of him playing elsewhere is nearly impossible. If he showed up in Minneapolis or Phoenix, they would be instant contenders. Brees could take the job of any starter in the league not named Tom Brady.

  21. Wherever he goes will have to be a dome team in a crappy division, so that leaves the options limited. We all know that he turns into Fitzpatrick when the roof is open!

  22. patsfan4lifesbchamps says:
    Jul 11, 2017 4:12 PM
    Elway will sign him to 2 year contract worth $120 million, he is that desperate for a QB.

    6 2
    Report comment

    ——-

    denver would
    need to cut talib, sanders and von miller to make that happen

  23. metalup666 says:
    Jul 11, 2017 2:43 PM
    He should be thrilled about the franchise tag. The average of the top five QB’s? And he isn’t even a top fifteen QB.

    Do you watch the NFL?

    “Anybody can throw for 5,000 yards when they throw 800 short passes and let the receivers do all the work. His rag arm is done.”

    No you’re thinking of TB12, except for the 5,000 yard thing.
    ——-
    Don’t stoop to their level Metal, you’re doing the same thing to another all time great.

  24. Did I miss something?

    Why does he count as $18mm towards next year’s cap? Was it guaranteed? A bonus?

    That’s not how the Cap works.

  25. The Saints are stupid. They should have paid Brees the same way the Patriots paid Brady.

    Wink wink low annual cost contracts but have the team ‘hire’ his ‘company’ for services rendered at 20+ mil a year.

  26. Brees with Broncos winning the Super Bowl next year make too much sense to happen, but weirder things have happened.

  27. >Brees has the same agent Manning did. Manning went year to year at the end of his career. He didn’t leave the Colts, they simply didn’t bring him back.<

    Of course, but my point remains. Like others before him, late-career Manning found a team close to contention that was happy with a temporary QB fix. The template is there.

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