Two days ago future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees tweeted that he is undecided about his future for the upcoming 2022-23 NFL season. After spending his first season of retirement calling games for NBC, it appears that Brees could be parting ways with the company and will be looking for another way to be connected to the league. In a discreet manner, Brees threw in that he may consider coming out of retirement to play again. Here are the potential landing spots for Drew Brees for the 2022 NFL season.
Brees spent two decades playing quarterback in the NFL. He spent his first five seasons with the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers and his final 15 seasons with the New Orleans Saints. During his time with the Saints, he won a Super Bowl and solidified his status as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Some of his accolades include being a 13-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl MVP, multiple-time offensive player of the year, and multiple-time league leader in all passing categories. He also holds multiple NFL records including consecutive games with a touchdown pass, the highest completion percentage in a single season, and the highest completion percentage in a single game.
Despite Brees being an outstanding quarterback in New Orleans for many years, it appears that they are not interested in a reunion. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport commented on Brees’ potential comeback saying that New Orleans is committed to Jameis Winston as their starter for the 2022-23 season. Based on recent examples of players coming out of retirement, like future Hall of Famers running back Marshawn Lynch and tight end Rob Gronkowski, it appears that the Saints still hold the rights to Brees if he was to return. If Brees is serious about returning to the league he may have to force New Orleans’ hand by making them trade his rights to a team he would want to play for similarly to what Lynch and Gronkowski did respectively.
There aren’t many teams that would view Brees as an upgrade over their current quarterback situation. All 32 teams should have some sort of comfort with their quarterback room now that the 2022 NFL Draft has concluded. Also, it is worth mentioning that despite being considered an all-time great, Brees did not play great during his final season in the league. Even though Brees played poorly in his final season there is likely a team out there that would give him one more chance to play football again.
Weirdly enough the best and most realistic landing spot for Drew Brees, if he was to come out of retirement, would be with a team that he spend the better part of his NFL career playing against twice a year the Carolina Panthers. They clearly have a combination of instability and lack of confidence in their quarterback room.
It is hard to blame Carolina for feeling this was considering that the guaranteed fifth-year option worth $18.9 million being paid to Sam Darnold almost forces the Panthers to start Darnold next season. The combination of this year’s lackluster quarterback class and Carolina’s lack of a Day 2 selection (prior to the draft) put them in a position where they couldn’t make an immediate upgrade at the position. Once the team failed to land Deshaun Watson, it appeared that Darnold would be their locked-in starter for the 2022-23 season.
Panthers owner David Tepper has shown within the past two seasons that he is willing to be aggressive (and borderline wreckless) to improve this team, especially at the quarterback position. Towards the end of last season, the Panthers made the bold move of bringing back the greatest quarterback in the franchise’s history Cam Newton to potentially give this team a spark to potentially make a playoff run. Instead, Newton failed to win any of his five starts for Carolina.
It wouldn’t seem out of the cards for the Panthers to figure out a way to get Brees into their quarterback room. Even though he may not be the elite quarterback he once was, he’ll likely be better than Darnold right now. He’d serve as a better mentor to 2022 third-round pick Matt Corral who could be the team’s potential starter midway through the season or in 2023. It may be difficult to convince New Orleans to trade arguably the great player in their franchise’s history to a division rival. However, if the Saints want to respect Brees’ wishes he may want to play in Carolina.
He would be playing behind an average offensive line but would have some outstanding weapons on offense and a defense that should be able to keep this team out of shootouts. If Carolina could get 75-80% of prime-Drew Brees they could potentially sneak into a wild card spot. This may be the last opportunity Matt Rhule has to bring in another quarterback that could save his job.
The worst-case scenario for a return to the NFL would be playing for the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta is another NFC South rival of Brees’ former team the New Orleans Saints. They also do not have a very talented roster. Outside of the cornerback position, it is hard to find an area on this roster that Atlanta can point to and say they feel confident in long term.
Atlanta has a rebuilding offensive line that doesn’t have any long-term starters besides Jake Matthews and Chris Lindstrom. They also have a weak receiving core featuring 2022 8th overall pick Drake London, former 2020 third-round pick of the Las Vegas Raiders Bryan Edwards, and former Bengals receiver Auden Tate. It would be a disservice to not mention that Atlanta has a freak tight end in Kyle Pitts on their roster. The Falcons running back room of Cordarrelle Patterson, Damien Williams and 2022 fifth-round pick Tyler Allgeier is very unproven. On top of that, the Falcons’ defense isn’t expected to be much better from what it was last season which was one of the worst in the league.
There isn’t much on this team that would be appealing to Brees except a potential opportunity to start. As it currently stands, Marcus Mariota is projected to be the team’s starting quarterback. However, his two-year $18.75 deal doesn’t show a lot of faith in the former Raiders backup quarterback. That is considered high-end backup quarterback money. Behind Mariota is 2022 third-round pick Desmond Ridder who could be thrown into the starting lineup if Mariota plays poorly and the season begins to feel lost.
Falcons fans wouldn’t likely embrace this move either. It would cause a range of emotions for the team to transition from arguably the best quarterback in franchise history to a quarterback in Drew Brees who they rooted against for years and is past his prime. This alone makes this landing spot unlikely. However, doesn’t seem impossible for Brees to land with his former division rival.
An interesting landing spot that would make sense for Drew Brees for a lot of reasons would be the Seattle Seahawks. First of all, it is the first team listed that is not a part of the NFC South. This means that the Saints could be willing to trade the rights to Brees to Seattle if they are one of the potential teams he would like to play for.
They also have a quarterback situation that is making people scratch their heads about what their plan is this upcoming season. Following the trade of Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, Seattle plans to roll with a Drew Lock or Geno Smith to be their starting quarterback for the 2022-23 NFL season. There is a solid shot that Brees could be an upgrade over Lock and Smith who are both considered average (at best) backup quarterbacks at this point of their careers.
Seattle has a lot on offense to offer Brees if he was to land with them. They have two Pro Bowl-caliber receivers in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Seattle also has a former first-round pick tight end in Noah Fant who Brees could target over the middle of the field. They also have invested in their offensive line in the 2022 NFL Draft adding both Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas in the first and third rounds respectively. Seattle also has a group of running backs that Brees could feel comfortable setting the tempo of the game for the offense.
As wild as it sounds Brees may be the perfect quarterback for how Pete Carroll wants to run his offense. At this point of his career, if he was to return he cannot be expected to throw the ball more than 30 times a game. Carroll could rely on a heavy running attack behind 2022 second-round pick Kenneth Walker, Rashad Penny, and Chris Carson (if healthy). Then Brees could be trusted to make accurate passes in the middle of the field to continue moving the chains. Carroll wants to run a more conservative offense led by a strong running game where the quarterback could be trusted to make little to no mistakes in passing situations. Brees, one of the most accurate quarterbacks in NFL history, should be able to do what Carroll and offensive coordinator Shane Waldron asks of him.
The Cleveland Browns may not make much sense as a potential landing spot because they traded three first-round picks to acquire Deshaun Watson and gave him the most guaranteed money in the history of the league. However, providing some context could explain why this landing spot may make sense.
Due to some off-the-field legal issues, Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is expected to be suspended anywhere between six games and the entire 2022-23 regular season. The Browns could easily just roll with newly signed backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett to start for them while Watson is suspended. However, this may result in the Browns missing the playoffs because they play in a loaded AFC North. Brissett is a solid backup, but cannot be trusted to keep this team afloat in a division that features Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow.
The Browns could easily just wave the white flag for the year and accept whatever happens this season. However, Cleveland doesn’t own their first-round pick this season. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense to potentially tank the season when they have a talented roster that could do some damage this season and make the playoffs if they get the quarterback right.
If the Browns were to acquire Drew Brees, this team could have a more realistic chance of staying afloat and potentially making the playoffs this season despite Watson’s potential suspension. He would be playing against a top-10 offensive line and would have an elite running game led by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to carry the offense. Brees would be responsible for doing the bare minimum in the passing game and getting the ball to his playmakers in Amari Cooper, David Njoku, and Donovan Peoples-Jones when he needs to.
Essentially the Browns would be getting the opposite of what they thought they had in Baker Mayfield in Drew Brees. They would be getting a quarterback with limited upside, but Brees is a better fit for Kevin Stefanski’s offense and would be able to avoid making turnovers in critical moments. Brees may have enough in the tank to make a big play in game-changing situations that Mayfield lacked the ability to do for a plethora of reasons.
The biggest wildcard for the Drew Brees sweepstakes is for him to remain a part of the NFL Media but join a different network. If Brees were to leave NBC, it would make a lot of sense for him to join FOX Sports. The Network is in the process of replacing two of the most notable commentators currently in the NFL in Troy Aikman and Joe Buck who just left for ESPN. The legendary duo is expected to be replaced with Kevin Burkhardt and Tom Brady long-term. However, Burkhardt will need a color commentator this upcoming season since Brady will be spending next season in Tampa Bay. Brees may be the best option available to fill the void until Brady retires.
If Brees does well enough to stick with FOX he could potentially pair up with another one of FOX’s commentators to do 1:00 pm EST games or join the desk with Curt Menefee, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, and Jay Glazer. Along with Bradshaw and Long, FOX has multiple other former NFL stars in Tony Gonzalez and Michael Vick on their media team.
FOX could also be interested in the idea of reuniting Brees with his former head coach Sean Payton who is expected to join their media team as an analyst this upcoming season. Reuniting one of the greatest offensive minds in the history of the sport with his former Hall of Fame quarterback would bring major ratings to FOX. Whether they call a game together or analyze game film at the desk people will want to see Payton and Brees talk about football together.
Hiring Brees with Payton would be a great response to the network losing Troy Aikman whose former Super Bowl-winning head coach Jimmy Johnson still works for FOX. It could also help smooth over the bumps Brees experienced in his first year as a part of the media during his time with NBC to reunite him with a familiar face.
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