The New Orleans Saints enter the 2020 offseason with some big questions at the game's most important position. The Saints quarterbacks played a big role in the team's success in 2019, so it certainly wasn't a question of performance. All three of the team's quarterbacks are free agents going into the offseason though, and questions continue to swirl over who could eventually replace a legendary Hall of Famer at the position.
For the first time since 2015, Drew Brees missed a game due to injury. Brees his thumb in the first half of a loss to the Los Angeles Rams, an injury that required surgery and forced him to miss five games. Upon his return, the 19-Yr veteran has never looked sharper. Brees averaged nearly 300 yards in the ten full games he played, completed over 74% of his throws, tossed 27 touchdown passes and just 4 interceptions. During a Monday night victory over the Indianapolis Colts, Brees moved past Peyton Manning into first place as the NFL's all-time passing yardage leader. In that same game, Brees completed 22 consecutive passes and finished 29 for 30 overall, another league record for a single game. He was voted to his 13th Pro Bowl and continues to dissect defenses at an elite level. Now 41 years old, Brees has recently announced that he will take some time before announcing his intentions for the 2020 season. Despite being an unrestricted free agent, the future Hall of Famer is expected to return to New Orleans for at least one more year.
Teddy Bridgewater won all five of his starts when Brees was sidelined by his injury. Bridgewater completed 69.9% of his passes in those starts while averaging nearly 244 yards per game and threw 9 touchdown passes against only 2 interceptions. Bridgewater had one 300-Yd game and ran Coach Sean Payton's offense efficiently, showing that he can indeed be a quality NFL starter. The 27-Yr old Bridgewater is an unrestricted free agent and is expected to attract interest from numerous teams for a starting opportunity, something that seems unlikely in New Orleans at the moment.
Taysom Hill is listed as a quarterback, but continues to flourish as an all-purpose weapon within the Saints offense. Hill completed 3 of his 6 pass attempts, mostly on gadget plays, for 55 yards on the year. He did have 27 rushes for 127 yards and a touchdown during the regular season, keeping defenses off balance with his combination of power and speed. The 29-Yr old Hill evolved as both a blocker and receiver in 2019. He caught 19 of his 22 targets for 234 yards and six touchdowns, becoming a legitimate receiving option for his quarterbacks. Hill is a restricted free agent, with the team likely to give him a 2nd round contract tender.
The New Orleans Saints best chance for a Super Bowl championship is still with Drew Brees lining up behind center. Although he will take some time to make an official decision, we should expect Number 9 to be back in a Saints uniform again in 2020. With Bridgewater expected to get a starting opportunity elsewhere, there is still no clear succession plan in place for when Brees does step away from the game. Multiple media outlets have recently reported that Sean Payton will turn to Taysom Hill as the starter if Brees retires in the next year or so. Given Hill's age, (he'll turn 30 before the season opener), along with his raw skillset as a passer and value to the offense in other capacities would make him seem unlikely as a longterm successor. The best likely scenario is that the Saints will find their eventual replacement in the draft, raising the question of whether it will be this spring or if they once again wait.
A number of early mock drafts have New Orleans taking a quarterback with their first round pick this spring, the 24th overall selection. Jordan Love of Utah State is the name most often being linked to the Saints, but a prospect like Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama or Oregon's Justin Herbert may also be in play if they slide a bit and New Orleans makes a move to trade up. The Saints may also be active in the free agent market, looking to bring in someone with starting experience to back up Brees. Someone like Marcus Mariota of the Tennessee Titans may be an interesting option. Mariota, the 2nd overall pick in 2015, lost his starting job this season due to inconsistent performance. Like Bridgewater when he came to New Orleans two years ago, Mariota is looking to revive his career. Just 26-Yrs old, the former Heisman Trophy winner at Oregon has playoff experience and could provide some stability if Brees were to again miss time. For 14 seasons, the New Orleans Saints have had one of the NFL's most stable quarterback situations. Even with the expected return of their legend, there will be some interesting storylines surrounding this position for the Saints this offseason.