He won the Super Bowl. He was the Madden cover boy. He revived a city.
From leading the "Who Dat!" chants to leading the offense, Brees was somewhat of a renaissance man for New Orleans.
It's too bad he's about to wear out his welcome.
After Brees took the once-lowly Saints to the Super Bowl and led them to victory over Peyton Manning's Colts, America was set on its ear. It's rare to see one person shoulder the hopes and dreams of an entire city; to then see that person succeed is another rarity.
In 2009, Brees did both.
From the standpoint of what he's done for New Orleans in the community and on the field, the former Chargers quarterback is virtually unmatched.
After the Super Bowl though, everything started to crumble.
It's not as though Brees' time with New Orleans was a house of cards, and all would fall at once.
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Rather, the Purdue product's New Orleans tenure is a levee. With every small crack, another crack forms.
The Saints' rivals are just waiting for the levee to collapse.
Brees' magical 2009 was a year in which he compiled 34 touchdowns and threw just 11 interceptions; he also posted a passer rating of 109.6.
After a great year, Brees turned 31. While some quarterbacks seem to get better with age, like Tom Brady, Brees had a tough time repeating his great numbers.
The diminutive quarterback posted a comparable number of touchdowns with 33 in 2010, but he threw 22 interceptions this time.
Brees doubled his interceptions, but his team only regressed by two games, going from 13-3 to 11-5.
In the Saints five losses, Brees threw 11 interceptions. In their 11 wins, he also threw 11 interceptions. There were just three games (four counting Seattle) in 2010 in which Brees didn't throw an interception. The Saints were 3-0 (or 3-1) in these games.
It is time for the Saints to give some serious thought to whom will be their next quarterback. Lopping everything on Brees' shoulders (one of them surgically repaired, too) can't work forever. Chase Daniel has played well in limited time, but the Saints need to determine if he is the future after Brees.
The Saints shouldn't cut Brees now or after next year. He has earned more respect than that.
Brees deserves to be the starter over the next two years, but the Saints need to find out what life after Brees will be like. The Saints are a team built to win for a long time, and it may be time to draft a quarterback to sit behind Brees for a few seasons learning the system.
In Green Bay, Brett Favre was a successful quarterback entering the twilight of his career in Green Bay when the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers, and the Saints may want to take a page from Ted Thompson's book and realize that their quarterback's window of opportunity is closing.
Brees is 6', and he is throwing the ball 40 or so times a game with a surgically repaired shoulder. The Saints' brass has to wonder how much longer the quarterback's body can hold up.
The Saints have Chris Ivory, Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore and other young, dangerous offensive weapons at their disposal. It would be in their best interests to not waste time transitioning from Brees to another competent quarterback.
In Arizona, the Cardinals had a good young team built for success, and then when Kurt Warner left, Arizona's failure to commit to a plan led to a disastrous and wasted year for the team in the desert.
The Saints can't afford that with their talented roster, and should be on the lookout for Brees' understudy.
Ryan Mallett seems like a potential fit. He'd be able to learn a vertical-passing system from Brees while also having one of the game's best off-the-field people mentor Mallett on everything about life in the pros. Mallett's makeup has been deemed an issue, but with a mentor like Brees, maybe the young quarterback can learn what it takes to have success.
Drew Brees is a great quarterback with a Super Bowl ring to boot. The Saints should just know that he won't last forever. It's time for a Plan B, however hard that is for Saints fans to admit.