What Are Saints Options If (Key Word: IF) Brees Leaves?

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Lightning Won’t Strike Twice

March 15, 2006; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees poses with his brand new team jersey next to head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis during a press conference announcing the free agent QB’s signing at the team training facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

The Saints struck gold when they nabbed Brees in free agency back in 2006, but to have that “lightning strike twice” doesn’t look likely for the crop of quarterbacks if he were to exit and that is for several reasons.

First is talent which starting in 2017 free agency, is headlined by really two names in Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts and Kirk Cousins of the Washington Redskins.

After that are others that were once considered to be future franchise quarterbacks but fizzled out such as Matt Schaub, Mark Sanchez, and Matt Cassel.

Which is why teams like the Colts or Redskins will not let the two aforementioned names I put out there leave.

The Colts will likely get a deal done with Luck before he can even sniff free agency; and the Redskins bought themselves some time by franchise-tagging Cousins — who signed it with a smile after backing up the now departed Robert Griffin III and are thought to be trying to currently lock him in for good.

If the Saints hobbled through the 2017 season minus Brees, they could try the free agent lottery again in 2018 when Detroit Lions QB Matt Stafford would be available, or test their luck if the New England Patriots were to let Jimmy Garoppolo get away.

Garoppolo was someone that the Saints had looked at during the 2014 NFL Draft process and was targeting, until New England snatched him up with their 2014 second round selection.

Jan 16, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) run onto the field before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional round playoff game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

But the Patriots — like the Saints — are also thinking about life past their own franchise quarterback in Tom Brady, so good luck with that one.

The second factor weighing in will be money; which is something that has hamstrung the Saints and Brees talks to begin with.

Currently the top ten quarterback contracts in average salary per year (with Brees currently sitting at #10), are in the range of $20-$22.13 million per year; with Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens at #1.

You can assume that Condon is trying to get Brees close to that number, especially when contracts that others like Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers and Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons have, are pushing close to averaging $21 million per year.

Another sticking point would be total guaranteed money; with Brees’ last contract being at $40 million, while Ryan has $42 million and Flacco $44 million in guarantees.

I mention that because regardless if Brees gets it from the Saints or whomever, it’ll likely be his last big contract and he’ll want to maximize every penny he gets.

With the salary cap on the rise each year; and with players and their agents being fully aware of that, locking any viable quarterback down to a multi-year contract won’t come cheap.

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