Drew Brees, New Orleans and NFL legend, sure-fire Hall of Famer, decided to come back for one last rodeo with the Saints in 2020 to chase that elusive second Super Bowl. But what could have happened if he called it a career after the 2019 season?
The Saints were always going to stick with Brees if he decided to run it back. If Brees would return it was going to be in a Saints uniform or no uniform at all. And that’s what ended up happening. An injury-plagued year season for Brees consisted of a torn rotator cuff, torn fascia, 11 broken ribs, and a collapsed lung, that only held him out four weeks. Brees recently said at a local golf tournament this summer that the only game he was feeling 100% healthy for was against the Detroit Lions. If Brees was healthy, there is no doubt the season could have looked a lot different, but at the end of the day, he was not.
So what could have happened if Brees stepped away and started his announcing career with NBC one season early. First off, who would have started at QB for New Orleans in 2020? A source inside the Saints building said that Tom Brady had a major interest in New Orleans if in fact Brees had retired.
ESPN reporter Jeff Darlington said on “Get Up” this Tuesday, “I think that people still underestimate how close Tom Brady was to signing with the New Orleans Saints up until he ultimately decided on the Bucs,” Darlington said. “I know that that’s gonna be a statement people try to question. It’s the truth.”
.@JeffDarlington takes a look at Tom Brady's comments about being snubbed by teams in free agency— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) June 23, 2021
"I think think that people still underestimate how close Tom Brady was to signing with the New Orleans Saints." pic.twitter.com/EQ1GJBgGCe
Brady was keeping close tabs on New Orleans, but other teams such as the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angels Chargers were in the race but pulled out late. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers since Day 1 were committed on Brady and once Brees said he was returning, Brady signed with the Buccaneers. Recently on the HBO show The Shop: Uninterrupted, Brady said “You’re sticking with that motherf–ker?” - talking about a team choosing their current starter over him. It is unclear who that team was, but it’s unlikely he was referring to New Orleans.
All signs pointed toward Tom Brady being a New Orleans Saint if Brees retired. How could the season and seasons to come have been different with Tom Brady at the helm? The first aspect is the pieces that Brady brought with him to Tampa Bay, including Rob Gronkowski, arguably Antonio Brown, and Leonard Fournette among others, likely follow Tom to New Orleans. They all could have joined the team in New Orleans if Brady kept his same mindset about those players, but after the AB scenario In New Orleans two years ago, Sean Payton would probably veto that.
Brady’s healthy over the course of his career has been excellent. Compared to Drew last year, Brady might have been a better choice health-wise. Brady had a small offseason procedure on his knee, but that was it, coming out pretty clean after a Super Bowl run. We can assume if Brady was in NOLA, he probably stays relatively healthy as well.
Comparing stats, in 12 games, Brees had a reasonable 2,942 yards with 24 touchdowns and 6 picks. Not bad while overcoming plaguing injures. Brady, on healthy legs, put up 4,633 yards with 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in all 16 games. Brady’s stats were leaps and bounds better than Brees, even on a per-game basis.
At the end of the day, if Brees retired and Brady signed with New Orleans, would they have won the Super Bowl? The world will never know. Did they have a better shot? Probably, but to each their own opinion. There are many questions that we will never have the answer to regarding the New Orleans Saints, so instead, the Saints' focus turns to ex-Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston to be their answer to Brady in Tampa.