From Sean Payton implying that this will be Drew Brees’ final season to Brees inking a post-NFL deal with NBC, it sure seems like 2020 will be Brees’ swan song.
Especially since Brees almost retired a few months ago.
“I think he very seriously considered retiring after the season,” Saints radio voice Zach Strief said on The Zach Gelb Show. “I think he felt at points in the year like this was his last run, and there’s just something that kind of pulled him back. Yet at the same time, it’s got to end. You say that every year. But I do think if I was going to have to bet on it, I’d say that it was his last year, yet I’ll never get him to admit it ahead of time.”
Brees, a 13-time Pro Bowler, needed time to consider whether he had enough left in the tank to return for his 20th season. After much reflection, he decided he did.
“I think it was very genuine, that he had to stop and really reflect on it,” Strief said. “I don’t think it was easy. I don’t think it was, ‘Hey, I’m definitely coming back, but I’m going to keep everybody in suspense here.’ It really genuinely sounded like [the Saints] were happy to hear he was coming back. I think there’s truth in that. They are truly waiting at the end of each season to hear from him.
“To be honest with you, the NBC contract surprised me more than anything,” Strief continued. “I know that he wants to spend more time with his family and that he’s really gone during the season. He’ll be gone a lot for that, too. For him to kind of jump right into something whenever he is done surprised me more than hearing he was seriously contemplating retirement. I do think for a couple of years now he has seriously contemplated retirement.”
Is that why the Saints signed Jameis Winston? And does it mean that he, not Taysom Hill, is the likely heir apparent to Brees?
“On the contrary, I think signing Taysom Hill to an extension, paying him $10 million a year for the next two years instead of the $4 [million] they needed to, was really to tell Taysom, ‘You are still our guy, so don’t take this the wrong way,’” Strief said. “Jameis Winston says, ‘I want to come here so I can learn,’ and they said, ‘Okay, we’ll give you a million bucks’ – thinking he’s going to say no – and he says, ‘I’m in.’ I mean, who’s turning it down? I think it’s a player that makes the team better.
“I don’t think the Saints have ever said Taysom Hill will be the next starting quarterback,” Strief continued. “I think they’ve said, ‘Hey, we think the next guy is in the building.’ But every year that roster changes. Putting a No. 1 overall pick – a young No. 1 overall pick – into that room certainly changes the conversation a little bit. It’s not to say that I think Jameis Winston is the guy. If they could make the improvements that he would need to play in this system, he could be the guy. But right now, I still give an advantage to Taysom Hill. I think Sean Payton is extremely excited just to see what that guy could do with the ball in his hand on every play.”