Saints ready to pick Drew Brees' heir but may lack draft ammo

It's a good thing the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees keep insisting they'll get a new deal done. Because as it stands right now, the Saints have only one quarterback under contract -- Taysom Hill, an undrafted rookie last season.

Whether Hill becomes the unlikely successor to Brees one day (as coach Sean Payton suggested to Fox's broadcasting crew last season), they surely don't want him starting anytime soon.

So the Saints need to re-sign Brees. They need to either re-sign or replace veteran backup Chase Daniel, who is also an unrestricted free agent. And they will strongly consider drafting another young prospect who can compete with Hill for that understudy role -- though that will be hard to pull off since they pick 27th in Round 1 and don't have a second-round pick.

It's not a must that the Saints upgrade the quarterback position this offseason, since they might wind up bringing the same three guys back next year. But there are enough balls in the air for me to rank it No. 8 in my position-by-position breakdown of New Orleans' needs.

Current depth chart:

Drew Brees. Age 39, unrestricted free agent.

Chase Daniel. Age 31, unrestricted free agent.

Taysom Hill. Age 27, scheduled to become restricted free agent in 2020. 2018 salary and bonuses: $555,000. 2018 salary-cap number: $555,000.


As I wrote earlier, I expect another short-term contract for Brees -- or at least a deal that only includes about one year's worth of guaranteed salary. The Saints have made it clear that they want to take his contract one year at a time at this stage of his career, and Brees has been willing to play ball.

If Brees were to hit the open market, the bidding could get outrageous. But Brees has insisted that he doesn't plan to even speak to other teams and that he wants to be a "Saint for life" even though he knows New Orleans doesn't want to offer any long-term guarantees.

Daniel's future is harder to predict since he'd love the chance to compete for a starting job elsewhere and maybe become the next Nick Foles or Case Keenum. If that opportunity doesn't materialize, he could stay in New Orleans and keep building a case for becoming Brees' heir himself.

Meanwhile, Hill will be one of the most fascinating players to watch in all of this summer's OTAs, camps and preseason games since Payton has spoken so highly of him even though he has barely practiced with the team. The athletic dual-threat quarterback from BYU signed in Week 1 last season after being released by the Green Bay Packers, and the Saints' coaching staff liked him enough to get him on the field in special teams coverage -- where he became a nice asset.

Last but not least is the draft, which is the most likely avenue for finding Brees' eventual successor. Just maybe not this year. Of course the Saints are ready and willing to draft another quarterback now that Brees is 39.

They almost did it with the No. 11 pick in last year's draft (they had Patrick Mahomes II next on their list behind cornerback Marshon Lattimore before the Kansas City Chiefs made their choice easy by trading up for Mahomes at No. 10).

The problem, however, is that the Saints don't really have the right kind of ammunition to land a top quarterback prospect in this year's draft.

The top four prospects will probably be long gone before the Saints pick at No. 27. They don't pick again until late in the third round, since they traded away their second-rounder to get Alvin Kamara last year.

Could the Saints trade up? Perhaps, but it cost Kansas City two first-round picks and a third-rounder to move up from No. 27 to No. 10 last year. So they would have to fall head over heels for a specific quarterback to make a move like that.

It's more likely that the Saints will consider a quarterback in the middle rounds, like when they drafted Garrett Grayson in Round 3 in 2015. If they strike gold, great. If not, the position will become a more urgent priority next year.

Previous rankings:

No. 9 Offensive tackles

No. 10 Guards/centers

No. 11 Running backs

No. 12 Specialists