The New Orleans Saints are one of only nine teams to have a losing record each of the last three seasons. They’ve been eliminated from the NFC playoff race in all three years, and while the jury is still out on whether or not Sean Payton will be back for another season, it’s pretty clear that the team’s future is looking brighter than it has in a long time.
The New Orleans Saints’ front office has made it clear they are sticking with Drew Brees for the team’s next quarterback. However, the Saints’ devotion to Brees is far from unanimous. In the early days of Brees’ career, the Saints were quasi-unanimous in their faith in the quarterback. The 1997 Saints went 12-4 and won the NFC South, while the 1999 team went 11-5 and finished second in the division. After each of those teams went deep into the playoffs, the Saints continued to stand by Brees. Brees was voted to the Pro Bowl in both years, and the Saints went to three straight NFC Championship Games from 1999-2001. That’s more than a decade of playoff appearances and two
The Saints’ undying loyalty to Drew Brees is a big reason why they have the best quarterback in the National Football League. Brees is one of the most elite, and most consistent signal callers in the NFL. The Saints have almost always given him the keys to their offense and he has rewarded them with plenty of wins.Did the New Orleans Saints make a mistake by keeping Drew Brees until the end?
Most NFL fans agree that he deserved to end his career at a franchise he was the face of for more than a decade. Still, one might wonder how the company’s management handled the last few years of the Breeze era.
Despite everything he meant to the city and the team, it’s impossible to ignore the negative impact of the Saints’ boundless devotion to their legendary quarterback. And unless they find a way to close a serious roster gap for the 2021 season, the first year of the post-Brees era might not go well for Sean Payton and company.
Saints coach Sean Payton talks to Drew Brees during the game against the Chicago Bears. | Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
The Saints certainly made the right choice by signing Brees in 2006. In fact, his six-year, $60 million contract seems like a bargain, considering the value he’s brought over the course of his contract.
Brees began his career with the Saints and was selected to the All-Pro team for the first (and surprisingly only) time. Two years later, he leads the NFL with 34 touchdown passes. He would lead the league in touchdowns and lead New Orleans to the Super Bowl title. Needless to say, the Saints took a big hit with their first trade for Brees.
Although the future Hall of Fame member has never played in a Super Bowl, he has always looked good in Payton’s creative offense. This put Breeze in an advantageous position and allowed him to take advantage several times. And the Saints didn’t hesitate to allocate significant financial resources to keep the franchise’s icon in New Orleans.
In 2018, they signed Brees to a two-year, $50 million contract, with $27 million guaranteed. He was then named second team All-Pro for the Saints in their 13-3 loss in the NFC Championship.
However, Breeze suffered a torn thumb ligament in 2019, allowing him to play in only 11 games. After another disappointing playoff loss (the Vikings were eliminated by the Saints for the second time in three seasons), he had to decide if he wanted to continue his career. Breeze eventually signed another two-year, $50 million contract. Unfortunately for him and the Saints, the 2020 season ended with a 30-20 loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Loomis talks about the depth of the base. If the ceiling was different, Janoris Jenkins might still be here, he thinks: We would love to have another [CB] in the building and create some depth. I like the guys we have, but I think it’s one of those positions where you can never have enough. #Seints
– Jeff Novak (@Jeff_Nowak) June 23, 2021
The Saints need to reflect on the loyalty they have maintained to Brees.
Sure, it made sense to keep him on the team, but giving guaranteed money to a quarterback who basically played year-to-year at the end of his career seems like a bad decision given the current salary cap situation. In fact, the team’s dedication to the Breeze got them into trouble.
Even after restructuring his contract to give the Saints much-needed breathing room, the retired quarterback is expected to make $11.5 million in 2021. This high cost of dead money is part of the reason New Orleans only has about $6.4 million in open space, according to Spotrac. Breeze’s contract, among other things, leaving the Saints with no financial flexibility, they can’t handle a big deal.
We’d like to get another [cornerback] in there and create some depth, general manager Mickey Loomis said during a recent appearance on WWL Radio. I like the guys we have, but I think this is one of those positions that is never enough.
So why can’t Loomis solve the obvious problem?
To be honest, if the financial situation had been different, we could have made a different choice with Janoris [Jenkins]. I don’t know how it would have turned out, Loomis said. We are so limited in what we can do. We are always looking, and if something comes up that allows us to strengthen this or any other position, we will do our best to do so.
As a result, the Saints must extend the contracts of three players to secure and cash in on long-term contracts: Does this mean Lattimore is a priority over Marcus Williams and Ryan Ramczyk? I don’t want to get ahead of myself. https://t.co/Mkus0fEtlL
– Gregory Hampton Lee Jr (@nabjprez2011) June 8, 2021
The Saints can’t do anything about Breeze’s $11.5 million debt. Right now, it’s just a bitter (and expensive) pill to swallow.
That’s not to say they can’t solve the cornerback problem.
New Orleans could create space by having some of its stars, both young and established, sign contract extensions. Marshawn Lattimore, the team’s first pick in 2017, recently restructured his contract to give the team some financial relief. The Saints should consider a contract extension with the three-time Pro Bowler Cup winner to secure one of the league’s best and corners and gain more cap flexibility.
Ryan Ramczyk also seems like a strong candidate for a long-term contract. The 6-foot-6, 314-pound right guard, who has been selected in each of the last three seasons, receives the team’s maximum cap hit of $11 million in 2021 (not counting Brees). A contract extension would significantly reduce that amount and allow the team to offer more money to the free agent.
With five-time Pro Bowler Richard Sherman, former Cincinnati Bengals starter Dre Kirkpatrick and underrated veteran Stephen Nelson still available, the Saints could add a quality player at the position if they free up space.
But if financial inflexibility doesn’t allow New Orleans to solve its biggest problem, it doesn’t bode well for a team that will have a new starting quarterback for the first time since 2006.
Unfortunately for the Saints, their veteran was loaned out for $11.5 million, but he will never be on the field for them again.
COMPARED TO: The latest report on Tom Brady will give Saints fans a sinking feeling in the stomachThe New Orleans Saints are already completely sold out of season tickets. For just $15, the team will sell you a ticket to any of the Saints’ home games this year — and that’s only if you can make it out to the Superdome to see the team play. And the Saints are willing to sell even more tickets in order to keep their holdouts happy.. Read more about drew brees not retiring and let us know what you think.
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