Drew Brees

The New Orleans Saints can’t be faulted for asking if Drew Brees wanted to play quarterback for them again. But he’s decided to stay retired and continue broadcasting for NBC.

New Orleans goes into its Week 16 matchup with the Miami Dolphins likely to start rookie Ian Book Monday night and just signed Blake Bortles to be the team’s backup signal-caller. On Thursday, regular quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian were placed on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list and will be unavailable. With Jameis Winston out for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee, the Saints have few options.

According to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Saints coach Sean Payton called Brees — who’s in Hawaii with his family — to gauge his interest. And Brees apparently gave the offer some serious consideration. Brees was the first quarterback the team contacted, also checking in with Josh McCown and Philip Rivers.

Brees ultimately turned Payton down for several reasons. First, he didn’t want to be Book’s backup. Presumably, that was the offer since Duncan mentioned it in his report. That’s understandable, right? He’s Drew Brees, a future Hall of Fame quarterback and Saints legend. And what would’ve happened beyond Week 16?

After nearly a full season away from the field, Brees also wasn’t sure he’d be able to make all of the necessary throws in the Saints’ offense. Knowing Payton’s scheme as well as he does, Brees probably knows more than anyone how well he could or couldn’t perform, especially on such short notice.

Brees also knows how important this game is for the Saints, who are still in the NFC playoff race with a 7-7 record. Apparently, he didn’t want to possibly cost his former team a postseason spotby playing poorly. Despite being tied with the Vikings and Eagles going into Week 16, New Orleans currently holds the conference’s No. 9 seed. A win would not only put them into that No. 7 and final playoff slot if Minnesota and Philadelphia lost, but the Saints would also vault over the 49ers for the No. 6 seed.

There were briefly rumblings on social media that Brees had a more glib response to Payton. New Orleans.Football‘s Nick Underhill tweeted that Brees sent over a photo of him golfing. But Underhill deleted the tweet, indicating that this probably wasn’t true. Considering what Duncan reported about Brees seriously thinking about returning, making light of the situation doesn’t seem likely.

But if Book and/or Bortles play poorly on Monday night and possibly cost the Saints a playoff spot, the question will linger as to whether or not Brees would’ve made a difference.


About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.