NFL rumors: Drew Brees might return to the New Orleans Saints in 2021

Jan 17, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) blows a kiss to his family as he walks to the tunnel following a 30-20 loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a NFC Divisional Round playoff game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Immediately ahead of his New Orleans Saints losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the playoffs, NFL rumors pointed in the direction of quarterback Drew Brees retiring after two decades in the league.

In fact, respected NFL insiders had concluded that the 42-year-old future first ballot Hall of Famer was as good as done. Now, weeks removed from the Saints being eliminated, that might not be the case.

Read More: New Orleans Saints quarterback: Top options to replace Drew Brees in 2021

Saints leave door open for Drew Brees to return in 2021

NFL rumors: Saints QB Drew Brees to retire
Jan 17, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) huddles with his teammates before a NFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

“I don’t think it’s a lot different from last year,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said, via Pro Football Talk. “We’ll wait for him. We’ve got a lot of other planning to do. There’s more unknowns right now than there are knowns in the sense that we don’t yet know what the cap’s going to be.”

If you remember correctly, Brees did take some time following the 2019 season to decide whether to return. However, the situation does seem to be a bit different this time around. Primarily, the aging quarterback has seen some major regression in his game.

Brees has missed nine games to injury over the past two seasons after sitting out a total of three games from 2004-18. He’s failed to throw for as much as 3,000 yards or 30 touchdowns in each of the past two seasons, too. That has been coupled with some major struggles getting the ball down the field.

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Saints quarterback situation will be the talk of NFL rumors

NFL rumors: Will Taysom Hill replace Drew Brees as Saints QB?
Dec 25, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterbacks Taysom Hill (7) and Drew Brees (9) talk in the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

As New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis discussed, the NFL salary cap will play a major role in what teams do this offseason. The Saints themselves are an estimated $106 million over the cap. It’s an eye-opening figure, one that will dictate what the team does moving forward.

For his part, Brees’ cap hit comes in at $36.15 million in 2021. Backup quarterback Taysom Hill has a cap hit of $16.16 million. That’s a ton of cash to pay to the quarterback position given the salary cap has been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn it has caused within the NFL.

From a financial standpoint, Brees retiring would help the Saints big time. However, Loomis’ stance that New Orleans will simply wait on the future Hall of Fame quarterback could very well be troublesome. In reality, they need to get to work shedding fat from the roster — regardless of the Brees’ situation.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Saints, check out #Saints rumors, rankings, and news here.

Even if the quarterback were to retire, New Orleans would have to move on from several veteran players or find a way to restructure a ton of contracts in order to even reach the salary cap.

This includes restructuring the contracts of Terron Armstead and Cameron Jordan while potentially trading enigmatic wide receiver Michael Thomas. That’s just on the surface.

It doesn’t even take into account whether the Saints’ brass believes Hill is qualified to be a starter next season. If not, they’ll have to spend cash to find a veteran quarterback in order to keep the team’s championship window open.

As of right now, Drew Brees is a $36 million cloud hanging over the Saints’ organization. That’s a much different situation that they were in immediately following their loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.

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