Years before he put forth a historic career with the New Orleans Saints, star quarterback Drew Brees began his days in the NFL with the then-San Diego Chargers. However, things didn’t wind up continuing for a long-term situation like both sides had initially been expected as they parted ways after just five seasons together. It was an ending that the Chargers had been warned about from Brees years in advance, all due to one move that the franchise decided to make.
Drew Brees’ Chargers career
Brees entered the NFL as the 64th overall pick by the Chargers in the 2001 NFL Draft. He worked his way into the starting job in his second season, where he quickly proved to be a viable quarterback in the league.
He spent his first five seasons with the franchise but struggled to get any significant headway in the AFC. San Diego had just two winning seasons with Brees that included a 12-4 record in the 2004 season that ended in a disappointing wild-card round loss at home to the New York Jets.
The Chargers failed to make the playoffs in his final campaign with the franchise that was ended in the regular-season finale with him suffering a torn labrum. San Diego attempted to keep him in free agency, but their offer was dwarfed by what the Saints put on the table.
However, the Chargers had forewarning about this situation being a possibility after they made one particular move.
Drew Brees warning to the Chargers
In the months ahead of the 2004 season, the Chargers found themselves near the top of the draft board after a disappointing campaign. It was a position that the franchise didn’t envision themselves being in.
San Diego decided to take advantage of the positioning by selecting a quarterback with their first-round pick that wound up being former NC State product Philip Rivers. In the weeks leading into the 2004 NFL Draft, former Chargers offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer ran into Brees, who asked him what the team planned on doing with the selection.
The Pro Bowler wasted no time in telling Schottenheimer that was the worst decision the franchise could ever make. Brees’ response is reasonable as it helped fuel him earning the Comeback Player of the Year that following season.
Shortly after that, the two sides split after the 2005 season with Brees venturing off with the Saints and the Chargers turning to Rivers to be the starter.
Saints capitalized on Chargers’ mistake with Drew Brees
Brees’ departure from the Chargers wasn’t surprising given his significant shoulder injury as their offer showed that there was some hesitance. It worked out for his betterment as he landed with New Orleans, where he has put together a historic career that will one day have him bound for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Brees has constructed an incredible tenure with the Saints that has seen him lift them to their first Super Bowl win. He has also achieved numerous historic individual feats along the way, such as becoming the all-time leader in passing yards and touchdown passes, most 5,000 passing yard seasons (five), most career completions and most seasons with 30 touchdown passes (10).
The 40-year-old has become a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer whenever he decides to step away finally. Meanwhile, the Chargers had success with Rivers, who has put together a highly respectable career, but the team has just two playoff appearances in two out of the last 10 years.
Rivers has stacked up some solid numbers over his career with 58,990 passing yards and 395 touchdowns. That hasn’t equated to much postseason success with him leading the franchise to just one AFC Championship berth since Brees’ departure. Ultimately, it’s a move that the future Hall of Famer has proven with his play that the Chargers made the mistake by drafting a quarterback.