An interesting what-if during an offseason featuring the highest-profile quarterback movement since free agency opened 27 years ago: Tom Brady was interested in the Saints this year. The Saints were also interested, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (on Twitter).
However, both sides’ curiosity hinged on Drew Brees heading into retirement, which he did not. The Saints re-upped their all-time great for the same figures — two years, $50MM — Brady eventually received from the Buccaneers. However, Brees’ deal includes only $25MM fully guaranteed; the Bucs guaranteed Brady all $50MM.
New Orleans’ Brees transaction occurred hours before Brady’s Bucs commitment, but the former had already declared he would return for a 20th season. And Brees said earlier in the offseason he would play for the Saints or no one.
Brady’s interest level in the Saints was believed to be “very serious,” per La Canfora. This adds a layer to a complex Saints QB offseason, one that saw them re-sign Brees, replace Teddy Bridgewater with Jameis Winston and extend gadget player/possible Brees successor Taysom Hill. Brady would have been surrounded by weapons in New Orleans, but he now has an enviable arrangement in Tampa.
This isn’t necessarily surprising. Brady was connected to a number of teams this offseason, before his sweepstakes narrowed to the Bucs and Chargers. The Bay Area native was believed to be interested in joining the 49ers, who investigated the possibility. Brees’ return cut off anything notable between Brady and the Saints.
Brees, 41, and Brady, 43 in August, will instead face off twice this season in what promise to be two of the highest-profile divisional QB matchups in NFL history. Despite playing in 10 fewer games (285-275), Brees has a 3,000-plus-yard edge on his new rival and is six TD passes up on the ex-Patriot legend (547-541). Brady, of course, has a 6-1 Super Bowl edge here. The Bucs and Saints are scheduled to play in Weeks 1 and 9.
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