At the end of the 2017 Season, the Saints will be faced with a monster decision. Does the team even entertain the idea of keeping Drew Brees in 2018?
This is the question Saints fans don’t want to even consider. Drew Brees is, without a doubt, the heart of the franchise. He’s one of the most loved and trusted sports figures in the world. He’s a guaranteed first ballot Hall of Famer and holds every Saints quarterbacking record there is. As far as NFL history goes he’s up there as well. His name is in the conversation with the Mannings and Favres and Bradys.
Here’s where the talk gets seriously polarizing. This article isn’t about Drew Brees’ age. At all. I fully expect Brees to have another five years of strong play in him.
But with the current state of affairs with the Black and Gold, having Drew Brees is an unaffordable luxury. There’s no point in having a Hall of Fame quarterback when the rest of your roster is a shambles. There’s no point in having Drew Brees if it limits your ability to acquire talent.
The Saints have proven over the past three years that having a quarterback like Drew Brees is enough to finish 7-9. Whether that is due to coaching issues or talent doesn’t matter.
Brees will command a salary in the neighborhood of $20 million in 2018. And that’s a low ball figure. With the recent contract signed by Matthew Stafford, things have amped up considerably.
That’s a Matthew Stafford who doesn’t put up Drew Brees-like numbers. A Matthew Stafford who doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring on his finger.
Brees money hampering the team
With the amount of money the Saints are paying Brees, the salary cap hit they’re taking with what they’re paying him, it’s untenable. The team can’t keep going in this direction.
They’re not able to bring in high dollar free agents who could seriously change the fate of the franchise. It’s debatable whether the Saints have actually been in serious contention for players like Malcolm Butler. With what they’re paying Brees the team just can’t afford it. Not without getting themselves locked into another several years of dead money and salary cap purgatory.
If just having Drew Brees was enough to get the Saints to the playoffs I’d say pay him whatever he wants. But that’s proven to not be how it’s going to go. The defense continues to be the worst in the league. All the Saints are able to bring in is value-priced free agents like A.J. Klein and Manti Te’o.
The only way forward
The only way the Saints can justify keeping Brees in 2018 is if he agrees to a VERY team friendly contract. That’s what Tom Brady has been doing with the Patriots. You can’t argue with the results.
Drew Brees is free to demand as much money as he wants. He’s earned that. And I’m sure there’s a team who would be comfortable in paying him north of $20 million next year for his services. But that team can’t be the New Orleans Saints.
There are far too many other areas on which the Saints need to be spending. And with the 2018 NFL Draft loaded with quarterbacks who can be the face of a franchise for years to come? It would be absolute folly for the Saints to entertain any notion of paying Brees what he’s currently making or more.
If the Saints were looking at least semi-competitive right now we likely wouldn’t be having this conversation. But your hand is forced when, following three 7-9 seasons, your team actually looks to be trending downward.
As long as the Saints are paying Brees like they’re paying him, assembling a strong supporting cast may be impossible. And if a Hall of Fame quarterback can only help you achieve losing seasons, you have to move on.