NEW ORLEANS - Two of football's best quarterbacks to ever play the game have been bounced out of the playoffs in the first round, and now face questions regarding their future.
As for Tom Brady, he wants to keep playing. For Drew Brees, you get the feeling that he will absolutely return in 2020 and play for the Saints, but we won't get a clear answer until later on.
When asked about his future, Brees provided the typical answer that has been evident over the past several seasons.
“I’m not making any comments on that, other than I’ve told you guys this over the last couple of years, I’ve always just taken it one year at a time and kind of reevaluate each offseason and find the things I want to get better at and move on,” he said.
Brees, who turns 41 in just 10 days, is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020 with his current contract voiding on March 18. However, it's hard to see him playing anywhere else other than in New Orleans and with Sean Payton.
Brees carries a $21.3 million salary cap hit for the Saints in the new season, and right now that sits as looming dead money. Needless to say, the team's front office has always found a way to make it work at the end of the day.
Arguably, the Saints have the best quarterback group of any roster in the league. When Brees went down with injury following the loss to the Rams in week two, it was Teddy Bridgewater who helped pilot the team to five straight wins while looking impressive in the process and likely leading him to cash in on a big free agent contract in March. Taysom Hill, who has become one of the craziest weapons in the league, has proven his worth in a variety of ways and enters the offseason as a restricted free agent.
Of course, this leads to the ultimate question of what will the Saints do?
In his postgame press conference, Brees sure sounded like someone who was coming back.
"I’d say that we have incredible culture here and a great foundation built," he said. "We know that there’s a stable group of guys that’ll be here for a long time so then you always spend your offseason finding other pieces, complementary pieces. Whether it be through the draft or free agency you never know how that’s going to shake out."
Brees added, "Bottom line is I know the environment of whoever comes in from the draft, or free agency, or whatever. I know what they’re coming into and the type of culture that we have and the locker room that we have. It is one that is fun. We work hard but we play hard and we have fun together. We love each other and this is the result. We will a lot of games and guys play for one another. We love coming to work together here in this locker room.”
In addition to Bridgewater and Brees, the Saints will have some big decisions to make on key players like Eli Apple, A.J. Klein, Andrus Peat, P.J. Williams, David Onyemata, and Vonn Bell. According to Spotrac, the team has just $4.1 million in projected salary cap space. That figure will undoubtedly change, as general manager Mickey Loomis figures out how to make the numbers work for Payton.
The Saints have been resurgent since their three 7-9 campaigns from 2014-2016, getting better in each season since 2017. That's included three straight NFC South titles. They should be back in contention to be in the postseason in 2020.
However, there's a lot of moving parts and pieces to the puzzle before we can safely say that. While the Saints fell short of the ultimate goal this season, there's still the hunger to get back to the Super Bowl. However, the window for another Lombardi Trophy is nearly closed for this roster, and they once again face an important offseason.