Most of the time, I start a piece with an idea or an opinion already firmly planted in their mind. I then proceed to share it with you and spur a discussion. With this piece, I'm not very sure where I stand, so this is more like a roundtable between...well, all of us.
The topic: how long should the Saints extend quarterback Drew Brees?
Whether the Saints should extend Drew Brees at all could very well be a question too, but it's not one I'm seriously considering because in my opinion, that is a no-brainer. Brees had another stellar year in 2015 and...wait what? You don't think so? Oh ok, let me get you some numbers (all of you lovely "numbers skimmer" can just go directly to the comment section and start debating!)
You know I love advanced statistics and although they're far from perfect, I think they tell us much more than just looking at "yards" or trusting the good ol' "eye test." However, today I'm not going to bash your brain in with complicated formulae. Rather, I'll show you some fairly down-to-earth metrics from Brees during the 2015 season and how he ranked among NFL quarterbacks.
Drew Brees: 2015 Select Numbers
So, like I was saying, Brees had yet another stellar year in 2015, unfortunately overshadowed by the ongoing burden of a putrid defense. This isn't a new story in New Orleans. Had Drew Brees had even a decent defense throughout his Saints tenure, he'd have at least two Super Bowl rings in New Orleans already...remember 2011?
But I digress. Yes, Brees had an outstanding year, but that was so last season. We're all about 2016 and beyond now and as you've certainly heard by now, Drew Brees' cap number for next season (the last on his current contract) is 30 million dollars. Thirty! There is absolutely no way that the Saints will go into the 2016 NFL season with a 37-year old quarterback that holds such a huge cap number, no matter how talented.
This means that two things can happen: a) The Saints release Brees outright and start the "Great Rebuilding of New Orleans" all over again. b) The Saints restructure Brees' contract, thus extending his stay with the team and lowering his cap number.
Let's just say that if was a betting man, I'd bet the house on option b. and now we come to the question...dare I say, the 30 million dollars question: if restructuring Drew Brees' contract is indeed the way the Saints go as most expect them to, how long should New Orleans extend him?
Brees who turned 37 just four days ago is a nice reminder that age can be nothing but a number. But we also know that Father Time never loses and over the past few years, we have started seeing little holes in Breesus' heavenly cloak: in week three last season Brees missed a start due to injury for the first time in his Saints career, a game New Orleans lost on the road at Carolina. Sooner or later, New Orleans will have to seriously start thinking about grooming Brees' replacement, whether said replacement is already on the roster in the person of Garrett Grayson, or still needs to be drafted.
If Grayson is the "heir apparent" in head coach Sean Payton's mind, then the Saints can get away with extending Brees for only another two years, at which point Grayson will have sat behind Brees for a total of three years before taking over. It would also mean that Grayson needs to become the Number Two quarterback, starting next season.
However, if the Saints don't think that Grayson is their future at quarterback, first of all: what were they thinking drafting him in the third round??? But I digress again. In that case, New Orleans will have to extend Brees for at least three years and draft another quarterback...gulp: maybe this year? Or at the latest next offseason!
The Saints could also go the "veteran retread" route, but that's no way to build for the future and I'm not even going to entertain that possibility. Although, as you might note, that's exactly how they got Brees in the first place...but that was more like winning the Powerball: it just doesn't happen very often...ok, more like never.
Two years? Three years? Grayson? Another young quarterback? The floor is yours, tell me what you think!