For the past eight seasons, the New Orleans Saints have had the privilege of fielding arguably one of the three best quarterbacks in all of football. Drew Brees has been a stats assassin, taking them down one by one and printing his name over and over again in the record books. While averaging 10 wins per season and never missing a game due to injury, the Drew Brees era in Saints history will go down as maybe the greatest of our lifetime.
Drew is the man and will be the man once again in 2014. There is no questioning that. But will he have the same backup?
Drew Brees: signed through 2016
Age To Start 2014: 35
2014 Cap Hit: $18,400,000
Once again, Drew Brees lit up the stat sheet in 2013. After putting up his third straight 5,000 yard season, it almost seems normal for this undersized marvel to just keep putting up phenomenal numbers like this. From 1985-2007, no one touched 5,000 yards and only one man was able to do it in league history prior to 2008. Drew has done it four times in six years. Even if one is to say that it is because of today's NFL rules favoring the pass (which may be true), the fact remains that no one else has thrown for 5,000 yards more than once and only four other guys have ever done it.
In 2013, Brees had his 3rd highest passing yard total (5,162), his 3rd highest TD total (39), his 3rd highest completion percentage (68.6%) and tied his lowest interception per attempt percentage (1.8%) even though he was sacked a career high 37 times. However, there are some who believe that Drew has hit his decline despite the fact that he helped lead this team to an 11-5 record and a playoff run to the divisional playoffs. As we watch a 36 year old Tom Brady face off against a 37 year old Peyton Manning in the AFC Championship game this Sunday, I don't think that Drew's better days are behind him.
As of now, a restructuring of Drew Brees' contract seems uncertain. With Brees' current contract, the Saints already have cap hits of $26,400,000 scheduled for 2015 and $27,400,000 in 2016. I'm not sure what Loomis has up his sleeve, but it seems like Drew is willing to help however he can. It's hard to see that happening without extending his contract, which is something that I think we would more likely see next year versus this year.
Whether he is on the decline or not, Drew is still one of the best and most durable quarterbacks in the business. Let's continue to enjoy the show.
Luke McCown: Unrestricted Free Agent
Age To Start 2014: 33
2014 Cap Hit: N/A
When Luke McCown won the backup quarterback job in 2013, it appeared that he would be a one year plug in for a spot vacated by Chase Daniel.
McCown only had one pass attempt in 2013, which was an incomplete pass attempted out of a field goal formation in Carolina. It was probably one more pass attempt from McCown than we expected, but he does currently have the role of holder for the kicker. Considering the state of the Saints' kicking game as a unit, McCown is definitely no lock to return to the Saints in 2014.
Ryan Griffin: signed through 2016
Age To Start 2014: 24
2014 Cap Hit: $495,000
When the St. Louis Rams lost Sam Bradford for the season, there was some speculation that the reason Sean Payton activated Griffin from the practice squad to the active roster was because of the possible interest in his talent. At this point, it looks like the early favorite for the backup quarterback position is Ryan Griffin. While battling veterans Luke McCown and Seneca Wallace in preseason, the rookie undrafted free agent put up a mediocre stat line going 32 of 59 (54.2%) for 380 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT. It appears that the Saints feel like they have something to work with here, so I expect for Griffin to be the early favorite to snag the 2nd QB spot in 2014. Besides, the Saints could save about a half of a million in cap space with Griffin over a possibly resigned McCown. Hey, every penny counts.
Free Agents and the NFL Draft
Some Saints fans may want to see the team draft the "quarterback in waiting" in 2014, but this is a team that finally has a draft with picks in the top 6 rounds. Coming off of an 11-5 season where the team let the division barely slip away, why burn any of those picks on a guy who will most likely ride the bench all season? While the Saints will probably bring in a veteran free agent or another undrafted free agent to compete with Griffin, I would not expect the Saints to reach in the draft in the lower rounds for a quarterback. Besides, when has that ever worked for us? (Man, good thing we drafted that Sean Canfield guy).
The Saints may have some decisions to make at plenty of positions on this roster, but quarterback is one that the Saints are pretty comfortable with. The starter is elite and there will be competition as usual for who deserves to be mentored by a future Hall of Famer. You have seven months Griffin. Time to show us if you're another plug in or could be the quarterback in waiting.