With the New Orleans Saints set to open up training camp down in in the Crescent City, there is one question that hovers amidst the unbearable heat and humidity, could this be Drew Brees’ last year in the Big Easy?
Brees, the future first-ballot Hall-of-Fame quarterback that led the Saints to their first Super Bowl title back in 2010, is in under contract for this season at $24.2 million, could possibly leave New Orleans in 2018.
With an estimated cap hit of close to $19 million and his contract set to void in 2018 due to no tag or trade clauses, there is talk of Brees seeking to replicate fellow thirty-something Super Bowl champion, Peyton Manning in winning a Super Bowl in the twilight of his career.
Sadly, it will have to be done a la Peyton in a different uniform.
Set to turn 39 this coming January, the ten-time Pro Bowl standout and Super Bowl XLIV MVP completed 70 percent of his passes for 5,208 yards—his fifth 5,000-plus passing year, most in NFL history—for 37 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
While the Saints hope to improve on a 7-9 finish from last year, the uncertainty on whether or not Brees will be under center is one factor. Another is who will replace him?
The answer may surprise many; former Heisman Trophy winner and quarterback of the Cleveland Browns, Johnny Manziel.
Manziel, who flamed out in the perennial dumpster fire known as the Factory of Sadness, met with Saints head coach back in March to garner interest in possibly being a fit for New Orleans. While many may dismiss this as mere speculation, if one were to connect all of the dots, it all makes too much sense.
Long considered one of the NFL’s true offensive geniuses, the prospect of a Payton/Manziel partnership would be as hot and spicy as a bowl of jumbolaya. In addition to having the benefit of playing in a dome and not the cold and harsh winds of the elements as he did in Cleveland, Manziel would also have the chance to be mentored by Brees, while watching from the sidelines, with no pressure to step in right away.
Also, unlike in Cleveland, Manziel would be able to play in a system that would best utilizing his unique skill set in scrambling and improvisation, his above average accuracy and arm strength in short, intermediate routes in Payton’s version of a hybrid spread/West Coast offense and an uncanny knack for making plays.
What Brees lacks in escapability and creativity, Johnny Football has in spades, which is why Manziel would be the perfect heir to succeed him down in New Orleans. Apologies to Chase Daniel and Garrett Grayson, but they lack that “it” sizzle and x-factor-type than Manziel brings to the gridiron. They also lack his experience as a NFL starter.
Yes, Manziel didn’t exactly endear himself to various NFL circles due to his off-the-field issues ranging from domestic violence and alcohol abuse, but New Orleans is different and a lot more stable than Cleveland in terms of having a strong locker room and a franchise that will manage him much better than the Browns ever did.
With Payton committed to another five years in the Big Easy in recently signing a five-year $45 million extension through the 2020 season, and the franchise needing to prepare for life post-Brees, they can do no worse than Manziel, as both seem to be a perfect fit for one another.