Since the end of the 2020 season, the New Orleans Saints have had Drew Brees’ pending retirement decision hanging over the franchise. Brees has yet to make his official decision, but all signs point to him stepping away from his two-decade career. There is a concrete reason why the star quarterback has elected to hold off the announcement through this point in the offseason.
Drew Brees showing telling signs of leaning toward retirement
The lingering question around the Saints centers on Drew Brees’ future as he contemplates retirement.
Brees has remained relatively quiet through social media, but his actions suggest that he will step away from the game. The 42-year-old spent an hour and a half on the field with his family after the Saints’ divisional-round loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He has also worked with New Orleans to reduce his 2021 base salary to $1 million, freeing up $24 million in team salary cap space. If he retires, the team can hold him on the roster until June 1 then put him on the retired list. That will allow them to split up the $22.65 million dead money over the next two years.
There is also a growing sense among reporters around the league that Brees will retire. The question has become why that hasn’t occurred yet this offseason.
Drew Brees clings to logical reason in holding off his retirement announcement
As time moves along in the offseason, there is a growing sentiment that Drew Brees has taken the last snap of his NFL career.
The question has become when not if Brees will retire in the coming days and weeks. NFL Network‘s Ian Rapoport cleared the air a bit on Monday, voicing that the future Hall of Famer will make his announcement when he’s ready to come to terms with the decision.
“My understanding of the situation is he wants to do it when he is ready to deal with it and admit to it,” Rapoport said. “He’s played football his entire life. He’s always been a football player. It’s hard for someone to come to grips with the fact that they are retiring.
“He just wants to make sure that when he announces it he is fully at peace with it. That’s what’s going on. He is not going to play quarterback for the Saints next year.”
Although Brees could reasonably return for another season, his actions up to this point indicate he’s heading toward retirement. His announcement could come at any moment soon.
What are the Saints’ plans moving forward?
Since the end of the 2020 season, the Saints have given Drew Brees all the space he needs to navigate through his retirement decision.
Throughout this process, the Saints have operated under the assumption that Brees will step away this offseason. Their focus has shifted toward their future under center.
Head coach Sean Payton indicated on a few occasions that the franchise views Jameis Winston as the potential replacement for Brees. Winston is slated to become a free agent, which would require a new deal to stay with the franchise.
The team also has another in-house option with Taysom Hill after reports last year surfacing that the Saints view him as the future.
There are also reports of disgruntled Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson labeling New Orleans as a potential trade landing spot. There isn’t much in the way of trade talks, but it potentially puts that scenario on the table.
Ultimately, the Saints have their options, which will come down to who they believe can guide them forward toward success.