Should New Orleans Rebuild Without Drew Brees?


It feels like a distant memory since the New Orleans Saints won their lone Super Bowl back in 2009. Five years later, New Orleans find themselves sitting at 0-3 to start the 2015 campaign. While it appears this will be a lost season, the organization must figure out a plan for the near future, especially when it comes to future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.

Over the past five years, Brees has been asked to throw the ball over 600 times each season. Sure, Brees has consistently put up gaudy numbers, but that amount of pressure and stress can only be upheld for so long.

This past Sunday was the first time in Brees’ professional career that he missed a game due to injury. 

“I haven’t missed a game due to injury in 20 years, since my junior year of high school. I consider myself very fortunate for that,” Brees stressed. “[That’s] another reason why this decision was so tough.”

Brees is out due to a small tear in his rotator cuff and there’s no certain timetable for his return at this point. His replacement, Luke McCown, actually performed well against the Carolina Panthers. McCown completed 31-of-38 of his passes for over 300 yards.

“I thought he played great,” Brees told WWL Radio. “I was calling the play with him in the huddle in my mind. I was executing by trying to see it through his eyes from the sideline. He threw it to the right place every time. He did not make a bad decision in this game.”

However, McCown’s performance wasn’t enough for New Orleans to come away victorious, as they were defeated 27-22.

New Orleans is set to host the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday and Brees is hopeful he’ll be able to give it a go.

“I’m day-to-day. Obviously I plan to and expect to start on Sunday,” Brees said. “But if I don’t, we’re in good hands with Luke.”

In 2012, Brees signed a five-year contract, which maxes out with a $27.4 million cap number in 2016. The 9-time Pro Bowler will be 37 years old and with him on the downside of his career, it’s time for the front office to prepare for life without Brees. If the two parties were to part ways, New Orleans could free up $20 million in cash and cap space.

This situation is similar to what the Indianapolis Colts had to deal with concerning Peyton Manning a few years ago. At the same time, New Orleans might not be as fortunate to land a guy with the talent of an Andrew Luck.

On paper, the 2016 NFL Draft class doesn’t have that guy, but that’s not to say the Saints shouldn’t explore their options. McCown is 34 years old, so he definitely isn’t the long-term solution and the jury is still out on rookie Garrett Grayson.

If New Orleans continues this downward path, they’ll most likely finish with a top five pick in the draft. If that ends up being the case, New Orleans would have the opportunity to pick from guys like California’s Jared Goff or Michigan State’s Connor Cook just to name a few.

The counter to keeping Brees around is that he’s a veteran and when looking at the Saints from a skill position perspective, they’re pretty young across the board. With that being said, this franchise isn’t going to be competing for a Super Bowl anytime soon, so why not go after the next franchise quarterback?

Brees has not only been a tremendous athlete, but he’s also been a model citizen in the New Orleans community. One would think the franchise would want to give Brees another chance to win a title elsewhere, while also setting themselves up for the future.

It’ll be a win-win situation for both parties.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.