As the NFL's trading deadline -- Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 4 p.m. ET -- approaches, we propose five explosive, albeit unlikely, possible deals.
Proposed trade No. 3:
The Saints have defied gravity for about as long as any team can in today's NFL that is not based in New England, as the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers will attest. New Orleans won a Super Bowl at the end of the 2009 season and put together double-digit regular-season wins four times in five seasons.
But the modern-day reality is three losing seasons in the past four, including a 3-4 mark this season, already hopelessly far behind the 6-0 Carolina Panthers and 6-1 Atlanta Falcons in the smoking NFC South. The Saints have systematically dismantled their core, underlined by the dealing of tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks and the release of linebacker Junior Galette, in an attempt to keep face of the franchise and future Hall of Famer in the pocket. There are 11 rookies on the roster already, so they are already well into a drastic makeover.
Now it's time to throw caution to the wind and let the Brees go -- while he's still worth something.
We could have sent him to the Buffalo Bills or Washington Redskins, but this was the best fit. The Jets might have the best defense in the league, and while Ryan Fitzpatrick has been an efficient (and cheap) option under center, it's only been six games. The larger career sample raises the queasy question: Can you win a Super Bowl with him?
Jets owner Woody Johnson might say no. Over the years, Johnson has seemed more interested in winning the back page of the New York tabloids than the Super Bowl. His two AFC title game appearances in 2009 and 2010 came with Mark Sanchez at quarterback, but Johnson has signed off on the successful (in a matter of speaking) pursuits of Brett Favre and Tim Tebow. This is a team that sees itself in the playoffs -- and few other wild-card aspirants would benefit more from a significant upgrade at quarterback.
This deal for Brees is too good of an opportunity for both teams to, uh, pass up.
Brees, who turns 37 in January, is in the second-to-last year of a five-year deal worth $100 million. He's making $13.5 million this year, but the Jets would only have to come up with half in the event of a deadline trade. The base salary is a staggering $19.75 million next year and the salary cap hit is $30 million -- the highest in the league. By releasing or trading Brees, the Saints would save $20 million. Thinking ahead, the Saints picked quarterback Garrett Grayson in the third round this year, the highest they've drafted a quarterback in the regular draft since Archie Manning in 1971.
The Jets are among those NFL teams closest to the cap ceiling, but they'll find a way to bring Brees aboard by restructuring his contract and releasing a few players. The third-round price is steep, but if anyone can assimilate a new offense in time for the playoffs, it's Brees.
In the end, San Diego's gift to the Saints in 2006 becomes New Orleans' gift to the Jets.