The silence from Brees has become deafening. All signs continue to point to retirement, with the biggest piece of evidence being a new contract that slashed his 2021 salary by nearly $24 million in order to allow the Saints to carry a reduced cap number until June 2, at which time his retirement would be processed in order to split the cap charge over two years, 2021 and 2022.
Per the NFL, the Saints would still be able to officially place Brees on the reserve-retired list on June 2 even if he announces his retirement now. Thus, that’s not the impediment.
So what’s truly going on here? Could it be that Brees is actually thinking about playing in 2021, even with a base salary of only $1.075 million?
Until he provides a clear answer, it’s impossible to rule it out. And even if Brees exited the Superdome after a playoff loss to the Buccaneers thinking that it was over, maybe the ability of Tampa Bay to win the Super Bowl has persuaded Brees that the Saints, who swept Tampa Bay in the regular season, still have a chance to cap his career with a second Super Bowl victory.
By all appearances, the Saints are ready to move on. If Brees decides to give it another go at 41, would the Saints welcome him back or cut the cord? G.M. Mickey Loomis has said Brees can play for the Saints as long as he wants; if he’s willing to do it for only $1.075 million in 2021, it will be hard for Loomis to say no. The question then becomes whether coach Sean Payton would re-install Brees as the starter, or keep him as an incredibly inexpensive backup to Taysom Hill, Jameis Winston, or someone else.