Another year, another prolific passing year for New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Brees threw for over 5,000 yards for the 3rd consecutive season, the first ever quarterback to accomplish this feat. Along with that he added 39 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions, one of his lowest totals since joining the Saints.
Though the overall year was great for Brees, he did have some rough games against Seattle (twice), as well as the Jets. However, Brees, for the most part, carried the Saints’ offense, which ranked 4th in the league in total yardage. Despite the statistics, Brees is surely disappointed that this year didn’t end with another Lombardi Trophy.
This offseason will be a critical one for Brees and the Saints as far as reloading for another Super Bowl run. Unfortunately, the Saints are experiencing some financial strain, the majority of which stemming from Brees’ 100-plus million dollar contract.
This year, Brees will count for close to $19 million against the cap with about $10 million in base salary. He says he is open to restructuring and possibly a pay cut, which will be much needed for a team that still needs to sign his number one target Jimmy Graham and revamp other parts of the team. It would be nice if Brees gave the Saints’ the Tom Brady treatment and took less money for the organization to sign other pieces, but I don’t know how likely that is.
Now, there is no doubt that Brees is going to be the starter heading into the 2014-2015 season (barring injury). However, Brees is no spring chicken. At 35 years old he has more football behind him that he does in front of him, and the Saints should start looking to have a replacement ready for when that faithful day comes and Brees calls it quits.
For now, they have Luke McCown, a capable veteran backing him up. After that, they have former Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin. Payton is very high on Griffin’s arm talent and potential. He lacks mobility inside the pocket mobility, but he could possibly make some in competition for the 2nd string spot.
It is unlikely the Saints do anything in free agency as far as quarterback goes, but there could be some good value in the upcoming draft, especially late. Right off the bat, this draft has some successful college quarterbacks, like Zach Mettenberger (LSU) and Aaron Murray (UGA), projected to go in the later rounds. Both got injured late, but have NFL arms and played in pro style offenses.
Besides those two, Tajh Boyd and Jordan Lynch were very productive quarterbacks in college and both stand around that six foot range like Brees. Lynch was a Heisman candidate, and Boyd had a lot of preseason publicity. Though neither are ready to play on day one, they could both be real bargains in the 7th round or possibly as free agents.
Though ultimately I don’t expect Sean Payton to address the quarterback position, it is something to pay attention to. Not every team is going to be like the Colts (Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck) or the Packers (Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers), but one can try their best not to be teams like the Raiders (Rich Gannon to…) or the Minnesota Vikings (Brett Favre to …). But I guess, as of now, as long as Brees is Saints, quarterback will continue to be the most stable position on the team.