Is Drew Brees in decline? The short answer is: NO, NOT EVEN CLOSE.
While negotiations are likely to take place in the very near future to extend his career with the Saints (hopefully till its conclusion), many among media and fans have been wondering whether #9 “has still got it”.
The outcome of these negotiations, according to many national “experts” would likely say a final word of how much the Saints value Brees going forward – a shorter than expected deal, or at terms significantly below those of his current 100MM/5y signed five years ago, should once and for all confirm that the player is on his down side of his career and that he has not much left in the tank. This seems to be the prevailing line of thought in the wasteland of ideas thrown out by the main and low-stream media in the postseason, year in and year out.
While we shouldn’t expect either the team to appeal to Drew to sign on the cheap, and for the player to offer a significant home discount, the bottom line is that both parties know that the window of playing at a higher level is getting smaller for Drew with the Saints and that knowledge should be enough to get to an agreement satisfactory for both in the very short term.
But can we expect Drew to lock the final deal of his career at terms significantly lower than the 20 mil of his current contract? I doubt it.
If you look at his stats, the picture is still significantly very positive.
• Last season, Brees has recorded improved numbers compared to both 2014 and the average of the last five years (2011-15) in the following categories (in brackets his relative position among the other QB’s with at least 3000 yards):
-COMPLETION % (#2)
-INTERCEPTIONS and INT PER ATTEMPT (#9)
-DOWNFIELD PASSING (#2)
• He has recorded numbers in line with the long term average while improving from 2014 for:
– YARDS PER ATTEMPT (#6)
– YARDS PER GAME (#1)
– QB RATING (#6)
• The only category with a small decrease from both average and previous season, although with the player missing one game, has been for:
– TOUCHDOWNS (#7)
Is this a picture of a player in decline or still at the top of his game? The answer seems pretty much straightforward.
If we think at how the Saints passing game has been mostly used since 2006 – short throws proxy of running game and the odd shot downfield to make the most of Drew’s pinpoint accuracy – and at how the stoutness of the offensive line has slowly deteriorated over the last few years (the 31 sacks yielded last season are the second worse over the ten period) then these are some darn good stats. Most certainly they show no decline.
For comparison, and similarly, 38 years old Tom Brady (only a year ago lifting his fourth SB, when people were calling for his retirement) has also just had a statistically good season in quite a few passing categories at his “old age”, to reinforce the point that if a player is smart on how he handles his declining physical ability, and the coach plays to his strengths, then the supposed “cliff” is hardly noticeable, if there at all. I can also notice that even if Denver’s D was instrumental in last week’s SB win, a 39 yrs old was at helm.
I am not claiming that the 37 yrs old Brees can play till he is 45, like he once (perhaps jokingly) said, but we can reasonably expect him to continue to play at a higher level for the foreseeable future. I am sure the team recognizes this and will make sure that #9 is locked for at least two/three years as Brees still is the best bet, at least on that side of the ball, for another Saints run.
In spite of his supposed “decline”…