Drew Brees may be 37-years old, but New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton doesn’t see his quarterback slowing down any time soon.
In an interview with NFL Network, Payton stated that he has yet to see anything different from his play and that he doesn’t know when it will happen if it does. Payton compared Brees and his longevity to what Peyton Manning and Brett Favre were able to do at the position.
Statistically, Payton might be right in that Brees hasn’t dropped down just yet. After all, the veteran did manage to pass for 4,870 yards last year with 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
But the Saints will need to do a better job of protecting their quarterback in 2016 and beyond than they did in 2015. He was sacked 31 times and pressured countless times more. They will also have to hope Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks can continue their ascension.
The production might continue to be there statistically for at least the short term, but it’d be shocking to see it stick around for the long term. 37-38 years old is when most quarterbacks tend to wind their careers down and retire. It seems very unlikely that Brees can continue on the same pace that he’s on for more than two or three more years.
Both Favre and Manning had great years at even ages 39 and 40. However, they had noticeable drops in their arm strength right around age 35 and 36. Those two are the best examples of how using veteran moxie and the knowledge of their offenses and teams to put up a ton of production. At a certain point, though, Brees won’t have even adequate arm strength.
Payton is probably right that Brees won’t show signs of regression just yet. He is still the second-best quarterback in the NFC South behind Cam Newton and should produce the same kind of 4,500-plus yard and 30-plus touchdown seasons for each of the next two-to-three years.
Brees is a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback, and those don’t go gently into that good night.