If the New Orleans Saints part ways with head coach Sean Payton after the season, here are five teams that should look to acquire quarterback Drew Brees.
Speculation about Sean Payton’s future as New Orleans Saints head coach first surfaced a year ago, but a contract extension through the 2020 season but that to rest. But as the Saints finish another non-playoff season, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports has brought the suggestion Payton could be traded after the season and the Saints may not ask for much.
La Canfora points to the team’s ownership situation, and the health of Tom Benson, as the lead reason for parting with Payton in an effort to facilitate a rebuild. The secondary piece of that rebuild could be moving on from quarterback Drew Brees, who has one year left on his contract and has been joined at the hip with Payton since both arrived in New Orleans in 2006.
Brees will turn 38 in January, so he’s surely not a fit for a youth movement and roster rebuild. There are financial implications to cutting or trading Brees, but the Saints have been up against the salary cap in recent years and moving on from him would bring some relief.
If Brees is made available during the offseason, as unlikely as it might be, these five teams should look to acquire him.
5. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams don’t have the 2017 draft capital to make a trade for Payton, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be a candidate to become their new head coach. Brees could easily follow Payton to Los Angeles if that’s an option, and the duo would automatically bring some much-needed buzz.
Bringing Brees in would obviously immediately help the on-field results for the Rams, and his presence would also help Jared Goff’s development. If Payton does become the Rams’ new head coach, Brees making a play to join him is not out of the question.
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
4. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs finished strongly in 2015 and they are still 10-4 this season even after Sunday’s loss to the Tennessee Titans. So they clearly have a winning regular season formula, but Alex Smith is not the kind of quarterback who can lead a deep playoff run and that stands to hold the team back until further notice.
Smith signed a four-year, $68 million contract extension with the Chiefs back in 2014, but his base salary for 2017 is a palatable $10.8 million and the dead money attached to the deal goes down significantly in 2017 and 2018.
The Chiefs could trade for Brees, take on his $13 million base salary and $19 million cap hit for 2017, and keep Smith. Some teams will spend close to what Brees and Smith would cost together next year on one quarterback, while carrying a backup like Scott Tolzien. The Chiefs, on the other hand, would have an enviable situation with two starting-caliber quarterbacks.
If the choice has to come down to Smith or Brees for Kansas City, Smith himself could be traded to make room for an upgrade. There are moving parts and the possibility of bruised egos, but the Chiefs should have some interest in Brees if he’s available.
The Jets obviously made a bad decision to bring Ryan Fitzpatrick back, even on a one year deal, but a lack of other options made it necessary with an otherwise veteran-laden roster. Bryce Petty is getting some run starting under center as this season winds down, but he’s hardly a proven option looking toward 2017.
The issues for the Jets this season go beyond Fitzpatrick’s ineptitude of Petty’s lack of experience. But some proven stability at quarterback would go a long way toward changing things next season, and that’s where Brees would come in.
With notable home-road splits during his time with the Saints, relatively speaking, Brees may have little interest in joining a team that plays home games outdoors in a colder climate. But the Jets do have capable top-end duo of wide receivers, with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. So the Jets could be a desirable destination for Brees, and he will absolutely have a say in where he is traded to if that is in the cards.
With the combination of a diminished Peyton Manning and the now exposed Brock Osweiler under center, the Broncos won a lot of games in 2015 and then won Super Bowl 50. Trevor Siemian has had some good moments in his first season as a starter, but there is clearly growing division in the ranks after Denver’s especially poor offensive showing against the New England Patriots on Sunday. At 8-6 after that loss, the Broncos face an uphill climb to make the playoffs.
The Broncos are almost sure to be in the market for a proven veteran quarterback next offseason, with Tony Romo likely on their radar if and when he parts ways with the Dallas Cowboys. But Brees would also become a very viable option if he’s made available, and much like with Manning that possible pursuit would be driven by Broncos’ general manager John Elway.
Brees would find a lot to like in Denver, with a top-tier defense and a couple very capable wide receivers in place (Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders). Winning a second Super Bowl ring is likely a priority for Brees as his career winds down, and the best chance to do it as soon as next season may be in the Mile High city.
After a 1-4 start this season, the Dolphins have won eight of their last nine games to put themselves into an AFC Wild Card spot with two games to go. First-year had coach Adam Gase is sure to get some votes for Coach of the Year, regardless of how Miami finishes the regular season.
Ryan Tannehill was solidly unspectacular under center during Miami’s turnaround, but with multiple reports to cause confusion it’s clear he suffered a significant left knee in Week 14 against the Arizona Cardinals. Tannehill acknowledged he has a Grade 2 MCL sprain, and Pro Football Talk reported Sunday he has a slight tear in his ACL. No matter what, Tannehill’s status for 2017 training camp and thus Week 1 is up in the air.
Brees almost signed with the Dolphins as a free agent in 2006, but concerns over a severe right shoulder injury at the end of the previous season turned Miami toward signing Daunte Culpepper. That’s a huge “what if?” scenario for the Dolphins, but if a second chance to acquire Brees comes they can’t turn it down.