Without Drew Brees in the locker room and on the field, who will assume the leadership in New Orleans?
A legend can cast a large shadow over his successors.
Whether it's a retirement or forced transfer of power, the person or persons following their leadership will face an excessive amount of scrutiny.
In the transition from Drew Brees to today, the underlying questions from media focused on leadership in Tuesday's round of Q & A with Saints players and Sean Payton.
Drew Brees is gone and semi-left the building. His aura is still lingering in the halls, meeting, and locker rooms in New Orleans' Metairie headquarters - but also in the minds of media.
I listened to the questions posed to Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Alvin Kamara, and Sean Payton.
"I think guys are ready to step up and, you know some guys maybe might not have been ready or willing to step up...as far as leadership goes, those guys are stepping into some of those roles. So it's good to see," said Alvin Kamara.
Cam told media on Wednesday, "in terms of leadership, we have a lot to offer."
Here is my ranking of the New Orleans Saints leaders of 2021-22.
SAINTS TOP 10 LEADERS
10. Marcus Williams: Another quiet leader via his on-field performance. The question for an outsider will be if Williams is a vocal leader in the huddle.
9. Ryan Ramczyk: A leader and star in the NFL. Ramczyk is a steady and "impenetrable force" on the Saints' offensive line. He's soft-spoken, but he's also a player and coach favorite.
8. David Onyemata - The Big O! Rising leadership as a defensive star for the team. He is now the interior defensive line leader since Malcom Brown, and Sheldon Rankins left this offseason.
7. Michael Thomas: The All-Pro wideout's injury hampered him most of 2020. Expect Thomas to elevate his game back to an elite status in 2021. But most of all, expect his performance to do most of his talking for the Saints.
6. Malcolm Jenkins: Jenkins is a vocal and well-known 2x Super Bowl Champion. He is a veteran leader.
5. Terron Armstead: In eight seasons, T-Stead is one of the NFL's top tackles for years. Armstead battled injuries, COVID-19, and still maintained his dominance at the left tackle position. And he raps. Players admire his demeanor and play.
4. Alvin Kamara: He led the league in scrimmage touchdowns (21) and ranked third with 1,688 scrimmage yards (932 rushing, 756 receiving). Quietly assumed more of a leadership role through his preparation and on-field performance.
3. Demario Davis: One of the unquestioned defensive leaders on the team. The AP writers chose Davis for the 2020 All-Pro second-team linebacker honor. In 2019, he was a first-team All-Pro linebacker. With his passionate speeches, off-the-field social platforms, and recognition as one of the "good guys" of the NFL, Davis' voice will be heard and responded to by Saints players.
2. Cam Jordan: Cam is Cam. 10 seasons, 6 Pro Bowls, 1 All-Pro nod, and 346 solo tackles; Jordan has been a leader for many a year in New Orleans. It doesn't matter if it's the locker room, television, radio, social media, or community affairs. Cam is consistently recognized as one of the New Orleans Saints franchise faces. His teammates and peers respect him.
1. Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill are tied at the top spot. The reason is simple. The quarterback position is the most critical position of most teams. Assuming either man earns the starter's role, their play this season in the shadow of Drew Brees will determine the team's direction in 2021.
2021 will be a new season and new era in New Orleans Saints football. Leadership is never just about one person, but it's collective.
Will any of these players become that one true leader like Brees?
We shall see.