There’s long been talk that the 2020-21 NFL season would be New Orleans Saints’ QB Drew Brees’ last season as a player and that he’ll soon head to his apparent next job with NBC, with that talk heating up earlier this month. However, Fox’s Jay Glazer went further than that still Sunday, saying on their pre-game show ahead of the Saints’ game against the Tampa Buccaneers that it would mark Brees’ last game in the Superdome. After the game, though, Brees (seen above post-game) refused to commit to that, and said he hadn’t made any decision on returning or not yet. First, here’s Glazer’s pre-game report:
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 17, 2021
“Drew Brees will be done, that’s it.” That seems pretty definitive from Glazer, and he has a solid track record. For the record, though, here’s what Brees said about his future after the game, via John Sigler of USA Today’s Saints Wire:
But when asked if he could confirm reports that he plans to retire now that the 2020 season is behind him, all Brees could offer in a postgame conference call was a delay.
“I’m going to give myself an opportunity to think about the season, just like I did last season, and make a decision,” Brees replied. Pressed about what would go into that decision, Brees said: “I’m going to keep that to myself right now.”
Saints coach Sean Payton was similarly asked for confirmation on Brees possibly retiring, but said that topic should be handled in another press conference.
The discrepancy there may not mean much. It’s certainly possible that Brees would rather make this announcement in a separate press conference rather than one after a loss (and a loss where he threw three interceptions, and had his backup outshine him on a trick play). And it’s certainly possible that he actually already has decided to retire, but that he just didn’t want to announce that right now. And some of his extended post-game time on the field with his family (and with opposing QB Tom Brady) certainly suggests that he may have been taking a last look around. But it’s also possible that Brees is telling the truth and that he hasn’t yet really decided if he’s going to try and come back or not.
And if Brees does choose to come back, that could get interesting indeed. He’s already 42, and while some NFL quarterbacks have found success in their 40s (Brady, 43, just beat Brees), the list is pretty short, and Brees did not look good Sunday (he completed 19 of 34 passes, 55.9 percent, for 134 yards with one touchdown and the aforementioned three picks). And while Brees has meant a ton to the Saints over the years, there are certainly questions about if he’s their best option going forward given his struggles with the deep ball this year and given that they already have a couple of interesting non-Brees options (Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill) on the roster. So this might get particularly strange if Brees wants to play more (he’s signed through the 2021-22 season, but many people have long argued he won’t come back for that second year) and the Saints want to move on; a situation like that led to Brady moving from New England to Tampa Bay last offseason.
With all of that said, the balance of probabilities here still seems to be that this will be Brees’ last NFL game. Even if Brees’ comments that he hasn’t yet made up his mind are true, he could still make the decision to hang up his cleats and head into the TV game. And if those comments are more of a delaying tactic to set up a later retirement announcement, and if Glazer’s report earlier was completely accurate that the decision has already been made, that also leads to Brees not playing further. But Brees’ comments do seem to leave a small window slightly open for him to continue as a player. We’ll see if he goes through that window or not.
[Saints Wire; photo from Derick E. Hingle/USA Today Sports]