At $244.7 million and counting, Drew Brees will surpass Peyton Manning ($248.7 million) and Eli Manning ($252.3 million) in career earnings this year. It remains to be seen, however, whether Brees will hold off Tom Brady, who at $235.2 million is only $9.5 million behind.
The answer will come from how much Brees makes this season — and how much Brady will make. Unlike Brady, Brees has made it clear that he’s staying with the Saints. Which means that he’ll take whatever the Saints offer.
So what will they offer? With Teddy Bridgewater due to become an unrestricted free agent and Taysom Hill headed for restricted free agency, the Saints will have a very hard time keeping all three. Ultimately, the question is whether they’ll be able to keep Hill for one more year, before he potentially takes over the starting job on a full-time basis, with an offense specifically constructed to suit his skill set.
Presumably, the Saints have a total quarterback budget, which likely will need to include money for a veteran who can run the base offense (like Bridgewater did for five games in 2019) if Brees gets injured in 2020. The bigger challenge will be having enough cash and cap space to match any offer Hill signs in restricted free agency, especially since the Saints will need to configure Brees’ contract to absorb $21.3 million in dead money from past deals.
It easily can be accomplished with a multi-year deal that includes a significant signing bonus and voidable years. Still, the Saints will need to land this specific plane in a way that allows them to have a transition year from Brees to Hill. And if the Saints indeed hope to arrange for an orderly and successful transition of the baton from Brees to Hill, it could be that the Saints will have Hill do more this year, and Brees do less.
“[I]f I’m back and Taysom is there alongside me, call the plays that are going to put us in the best position to win,” Brees told PFT Live at the Super Bowl. “And if that means Taysom Hill is taking 30 snaps a game, 25 snaps a game, so be it. I’m all for that.”
The contracts given to Brees soon, and to Hill eventually, will go a long way toward revealing the extent to which the quarterback job will be shared by Brees and Hill in 2020.