Drew Brees retirement: Breaking down the Saints’ possible replacements for legendary QB

After 20 years, 13 Pro Bowls, one Super Bowl and a slew of franchise and league passing records to his name, Drew Brees has announced his retirement from pro football. One of the most accomplished quarterbacks in league history, Brees is also the most beloved player in Saints history, the player who helped turn the Saints from cellar dwellers into perennial title contenders. 

Brees’ retirement was widely expected following the Saints’ divisional round playoff loss to the Buccaneers, so rest assured that the Saints had begun planning for his departure long before Sunday’s announcement. Here’s a look at several options the Saints have at quarterback for the 2021 season.  

It looks like Hill is the front-runner to replace Brees in 2021. Hill and the Saints have come to terms on a four-year, $140 million contract that gave the Saints an additional $7.5 million in cap space. Last year, Hill went 3-1 in relief of Brees, who suffered rib/lung injuries in Week 10. He completed 72.7% of his passes with four touchdowns and just two interceptions. Hill, who will turn 31 in August, also rushed for eight touchdowns while averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Hill may be the Saints’ starter in 2021; how well he plays this year will determine what happens in 2022. 

Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Saints are now expected to turn their attention to Winston, who just concluded his first season in New Orleans. Winston could receive a similar deal to the one-year, $14 million deal that Cam Newton recently signed with the Patriots. A former league passing champion, Winston has 70 career starts under his belt. Winston has also shown a penchant for throwing interceptions, which is what led to him accepting a backup position in New Orleans last offseason. 

The Saints were among the teams included on Wilson’s list of teams he’d sign off on in the event Seattle trades him. New Orleans would surely have to give up at least two first-round picks (along with additional assets) to land him. The Saints would get a seven-time Pro Bowler who led the Seahawks to a Super Bowl win in 2013. Wilson would likely flourish in an offense that also includes perennial Pro Bowlers Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara

This scenario seems more unlikely than Wilson, given the Texans‘ public resistance to trade him. But if Houston decides to make the move, don’t be surprised if the Saints express interest in acquiring the league’s reigning passing champion. 

Mac Jones

When asked which quarterback draft prospect best fits the Saints’ offense, CBS Sports NFL draft analyst Josh Edwards picked Jones, the 19th best player and fifth best quarterback in this year’s prospect rankings. Fellow CBS Sports draft analyst Chris Trapasso has the Saints using the 28th overall pick on Jones in his most recent mock draft. “New Orleans has a roster that should compete for the NFC South despite Brees’ decision,” Edwards said. “They are a consistent quarterback away from once again being a factor in the playoffs. Jones can be that player because of the structure in place. The Saints have a really good offensive line and a few skill players to give the Alabama product a chance to succeed early. His ceiling is not as high as others mentioned in the first round conversation but he is one better equipped to contribute early if plugged into the right situation.”

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