NFC South: Oldie but goodie

Projecting the best 30-and-over player in my division by the start of the 2014 season.

When the 2014 season opens, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees will be 35 years old. By then, the guy who has been the NFC South’s best player for the last few years might be closing in on the end of his career.

But Brees still will be one of the best players in the division and there are multiple reasons for that. The guy always has taken good care of himself and should be able to play into his late 30s. The shoulder injury that left his future in question when he was leaving San Diego hasn’t been an issue since he got to New Orleans.

There was some sort of knee injury last season and that might have had something to do with Brees throwing a career-high 22 interceptions. But the knee seemed to be fine as Brees led the Saints through players-only workouts this offseason. This is a guy who’s been at the top of his game from the time he joined the Saints in 2006, and there’s no reason to expect a dramatic fall in the next few seasons.

But that’s not just due to Brees’ talent, conditioning and work ethic. There are other factors that should help him remain a top quarterback into his late 30s. He’s got an offensive line, led by Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks, that does a nice job of protecting him, and a slew of receivers, tight ends and running backs who can make things happen after the catch.

In Sean Payton’s offense, everything is tailored to Brees’ strengths. He doesn’t have to run and he doesn’t have to throw the ball 60 yards downfield. His job is to be accurate and spread the ball around to a bunch of different guys who can make plays. Heck, Brees might be able to keep doing that into his 40s.