The videos have been out there for the past week of Drew Brees pushing a sled and doing some conditioning, thanks to Mr. Social Media himself, former Bears quarterback Chase Daniel.
Isn't Brees supposed to be settling in with a bottle of suds to watch Zion Williamson about now? He's done now. Why is he working so hard?
You don't suppose ...? Naw.
At least NFL Network's Ian Rapoport doubts Brees is going to keep playing.
"I have not gotten any sense at all that Drew Brees is doing anything but retiring," Rapoport said Monday on NFL Network.
Perhaps Brees just hasn't run it by Rapoport for permission.
Seriously, there is every reason to believe Brees actually is done but it is so easy to doubt Rapoport's statement. He can't read Brees' mind and besides, this retirement thing and old quarterbacks has everyone conditioned to think they can just keep playing now.
If Brees was working out like a madman then it was simply because ... ?
If Brady could do it in Tampa, why not Brees in Chicago?
Rapoport went into a bit of an explanation about how Brees has a broadcast gig lined up and just needs time to come to grips with retirement before making the announcement, although it has almost been two months now.
"He is not going to play quarterback for the Saints next year."
Let's latch on to that last little phrase, "...for the Saints next year."
Obviously that could be translated to mean he'd play for someone else.
A quarterback divorced his team of 20 years and just won the Super Bowl at age 43 so we're just to assume Brees is done when he doesn't turn 43 until during the playoffs of in 2022? Tom Brady is 44 when the next season begins and he's not retiring. Brees is a young brother by comparison.
After all, Brees is a quarterback who had passer ratings in the 100s his last six seasons. Only once since 2007 has he had a passer rating worse than the best rating Mitchell Trubisky ever achieved.
What on earth is the point of retiring now unless it's simply to help the Saints with their salary cap? That can easily be done from under center for another team.
It's not difficult to connect dots and find a place for Brees to finish his career, even as the Saints seem determined to usher him onto NBC.
The Ryan Pace Connection
Some Bears fans believe Ryan Pace has a poster of Brees in every room of his house. Pace's face lights up when he talks about Brees the way Matt Nagy's face lights up when he talks about Alex Smith.
It would be somewhat easy to put Brees in a Bears uniform. He bent over backwards to accomodate the Saints cap problems and reduced his salary to about $1 million, as Rapoport pointed out. So why should they not accomodate him and release him if he wants to play elsewhere?
"He's not playing for a million dollars in 2021. In fact, I would not expect him to play anywhere, at all, in 2021 except for maybe the TV booth, which is coming," Rapoport said.
Ultimately, that might be better for Brees than coming to Chicago.
Then again, would it? If Brees wanted to keep playing and didn't want to do it for almost free like in New Orleans, it would be much easier for the Bears to work out an agreement with Saints GM Mickey Loomis than it would be to come up with a deal for Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson or Derek Carr.
Loomis and Pace are tight. They could get something done in a simple trade. The Saints could even cut him with a post-June 1 designation and would realize an overall cap savings of $1.075 million according to Overthecap.com.
These Are the Bears, Not the Buccaneers
Still, it's not so easy to get the same type of results with the Bears that Brady got from his switch to Tampa Bay. The Bears have only a few of the ingredients Brady found in Tampa.
First of all, it's Chicago, the Windy City. It takes a strong arm to throw through that wind down on the lake in November and December. Brees did it in October to beat the Bears, barely. They won 26-23 in overtime at a time when everyone in the league was beating up on the Bears.
It wasn't really cold then. The wind wasn't a big factor.
Everyone in the league acknowledges Brees lost a lot off his fastball over the past two years. His long passes were coming up short at times.
A dome quarterback, he couldn't play in the cold outdoors on the lake regularly. He'd need to go to a dome team or Miami. In fact, Brees never seemed to have a lot of success in cold weather games. That 2010 NFC championship game comes to mind right away.
Beyond that, Brees always had pretty good pass protection, a great running game with Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray, and a group of the best receivers on the planet, starting with Michael Thomas.
In Chicago, he'd have the kind of pass blocking that put Nick Foles in a sitting position on the back of a cart.
The Bears have a running back but can't always give him holes. They have a receiver but can't assure anyone he'll even be here next season.
The offensive system isn't the fluid machine it was under Sean Payton. Matt Nagy hasn't had them rated higher than 21st in yards gained in any of his three seasons.
If Brees wanted to play another year, New Orleans might still the best place for him even if it might not sit well with Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. If not, another city with a good cap situation would be better than Chicago because the Bears are right about at cap level at the moment.
Ultimately, the only thing Brees would find familiar in Chicago beyond a bad cap situation, Pace and former teammate Akiem Hicks is a defense usually right there providing support, much like the one he had the last few years in the Crescent City.
The Bears have this national manhunt underway for a quarterback, somewhat like the one launched for a kicker two years ago. So, there's no point in leaving a stone unturned.
Consider this one turned and it doesn't have a quarterback under it for the Bears.