KENNER, La. – Chances are, former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was just having a little fun on social media Sunday night when he threw out the phrase “I may play football again” while responding to a report about his broadcasting future.
But when you are one of the most prolific and competitive quarterbacks in NFL history, that phrase is obviously going to raise eyebrows -- and procedural questions. Here’s a quick glance at what a comeback might entail for the 43-year-old.
Was Brees serious about ending his retirement after one season?
No … but, well, you never know.
Sources close to both Brees and the Saints have indicated no comeback is imminent. And Saints coach Dennis Allen confirmed as much at Monday’s Saints Hall of Fame Golf Classic when he said, “I think it was a comment made in jest, and we certainly haven’t had any conversations in that regard.”
Brees was directly responding to a New York Post report that he would not be returning to NBC after one year as an analyst. Brees responded to the report while listing a number of things he may consider doing -- including training “for the pickleball tour.”
Despite speculation from media about my future this fall, I'm currently undecided. I may work for NBC, I may play football again, I may focus on business and philanthropy, I may train for the pickleball tour, senior golf tour, coach my kids or all of the above. I'll let you know— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) May 15, 2022
However, Brees also tweeted earlier Sunday night about how the Saints’ recent additions of local icons Tyrann Mathieu and Jarvis Landry “makes me want to come back and play again!!!”
Man..signing @juice_landry and @mathieu_era makes me want to come back and play again!!! Great additions...leaders and players! https://t.co/ARvwQbnPUU— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) May 15, 2022
And Brees is a notoriously competitive personality who often said he could play at a high level until age 45 -- and has continued to watch Tom Brady prove it’s possible.
Brees recently had surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder, according to multiple reports, which could be looked at in two ways. Either that means he is not ready to return to football anytime soon or he actually wants to keep his body in peak condition.
Brees probably feels better now than he did a year ago. He acknowledged he was dealing with a myriad of nagging injuries in 2020 (including a punctured lung and fractured ribs that sidelined him for four weeks) and said he was fully healthy for one game.
Even if Brees doesn’t return to the Saints or another team this summer, it’s possible he could stay in shape in case another opportunity arises. The Saints, after all, did call him to gauge his interest last December when they were down to their fourth starting quarterback of the season.
Would the Saints be interested?
This one is too hypothetical to answer fairly. General manager Mickey Loomis wisely avoided the possibility of creating any controversy Monday while saying he has not talked to Brees.
When asked if he thinks Brees would be capable of a comeback, Loomis said Brees is "capable of anything he wants to do" but said he would "stay away" from any speculation.
The Saints have made a fairly strong commitment to current quarterback Jameis Winston, signing him to a two-year extension worth a base value of $28 million with $21 million guaranteed this offseason after their attempts to trade for Deshaun Watson fell short.
They also signed one of the most proven veteran backup options in Andy Dalton. And they still have Taysom Hill, though he is expected to focus more on a tight end/runner role this year.
It’s hard to predict how the Saints might react if Brees was adamant about making a comeback. But once again, he might be the first call they make if injuries arise.
What is Brees’ contract status?
Brees was placed on the NFL’s reserve/retired list last June. But he could always apply for reinstatement. Since he still had one year remaining on his contract with the Saints, that final year would toll and they would maintain his rights.
Interestingly, though, Brees had lowered his salary to the veteran minimum of $1.075 million before he retired to help New Orleans’ salary-cap situation. So the two sides would likely have to work out a new agreement whether he returned to the Saints or wanted to play for another team.
The Saints have more than $10 million remaining in salary-cap space -- even after signing Mathieu and Landry. But they pushed nearly $100 million in cap costs into future years earlier this offseason to get under the cap and make room for the possibility of adding Watson’s contract, so any Brees reunion would have to come at a major hometown discount.
Hypothetically speaking, of course.