Drew Brees Rumors: Saints Managing Contracts, Salary as If QB Will Retire

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2021

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) warms up before the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

Drew Brees hasn't announced he will retire from the NFL, but the New Orleans Saints are reportedly preparing to move forward without him this offseason.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN explained as much on SportsCenter on Sunday:

"Everybody is pretty much waiting on a retirement announcement; no clarity yet. The Saints have managed their books as if he's going to retire, they've restructured his deal where he's only owed $1 million in salary, but maybe he'll get the itch to come back. Right now, the Saints are working independently of Brees. They've said publicly and privately they want to re-sign Jameis Winston; he might test free agency at this point. They're also busy restructuring contracts, just trying to get under the cap right now."

Brees was initially scheduled to make $25 million in 2021 but restructured his salary down to the veteran minimum of $1.075 million in February, per Mike Triplett of ESPN.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported in January the 42-year-old was likely to retire this offseason, although there still hasn't been any announcement from Brees.

Saints head coach Sean Payton said on PFT Live in early February that he was expecting an announcement in the next couple of weeks, but there has been no update.

New Orleans still has to plan for the upcoming season, including determining the starting quarterback for 2021.

Taysom Hill started in place for Brees when he was injured last season and remains under contract with a $16.2 million cap hit in 2021, per Spotrac. The versatile player could still have competition for the job, including from Jameis Winston as he prepares to hit free agency.

"We had enough time to see what we had with him as a player, as a leader, as an athlete," Payton said of Winston on NFL Network's Good Morning Football in February. "I really like what we had a chance to see. He was a tremendous leader for this team, and that's hard to do when you come in new in free agency your first year as a backup quarterback."

Outside of the quarterback position, the Saints have been forced to make significant adjustments as a result of a salary-cap crunch. Janoris Jenkins, Emmanuel Sanders and Kwon Alexander were among those already released, while Trey Hendrickson is set to enter free agency.

New Orleans entered the offseason $54.4 million over the cap, per Katherine Terrell of The Athletic.