Adam Schefter’s comment mostly went unnoticed on a busy Sunday in Week 17, but the ESPN insider suggested that these are the final days of Drew Brees’ NFL career.
Speaking on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, Schefter said, “Everybody expects after this season Drew Brees will retire.”
The Saints qualified for the postseason as the NFC’s No. 2 seed and will host the Bears on Sunday, Jan. 10. That prolongs any question of Brees’ retirement until whenever New Orleans’ playoff run is complete. Brees, who turns 42 on Jan. 15, is in his 20th NFL season, one in which he dealt with 11 fractured ribs and a collapsed lung.
Here’s what we know right now about the prospect of Brees calling it quits.
Will Drew Brees retire?
The basis for the Brees retirement speculation is that Schefter comment in Week 17: “Everybody expects after this season Drew Brees will retire.”
Signs before the season pointed to Brees potentially sticking around for two years, with him signing a two-year deal with the Saints before the 2020 season. That came after there was already curiousity surrounding the idea of a Brees retirment following the 2019 season.
The injuries Brees dealt with in 2020 could be part of the influence on such a decision. A big hit from the 49ers in Week 10 fractured 11 of Brees’ ribs and collapsed one of his lungs. He didn’t return to action until Week 15, and even then, he laughed at a reporter who asked if he was 100 percent.
Since his return from that injury, Brees threw for three touchdowns in two separate games while throwing for 311 yards in the one game he didn’t throw a touchdown in. His arm strength has dropped off late in his career, although that wasn’t necessarily his calling card to begin with.
If not for Tom Brady still going strong at 43 years old, Brees would be the gold standard for quarterback play in his 40s. Prior to 2020, Brees led the NFL in completion percentage in three consecutive years, twice setting the new NFL single-season record. When his receivers are healthy and he gets protection up front, Brees can certainly still play.
A Brees retirement decision could be impacted by what the Saints accomplish in the 2021 playoffs. A run to the Super Bowl could impact the final call, one way or the other. But Schefter’s language in his report was certainly strong — now it just comes down to what Brees expects himself to do.
Drew Brees NBC contract
Making matters potentially easier for Brees is the contract he’s got to join NBC following his retirement. NBC reportedly won the bidding war for Brees in April over Fox and ESPN.
According to reports, NBC has Brees lined up to be a game analyst on the network’s Notre Dame broadcasts on Saturdays and then a studio analyst for NBC’s “Football Night in America” on Sundays.
If Brees indeed retires, he’ll get a full-circle moment very early in his tenure calling Notre Dame. On Sept. 18, 2021, the Fighting Irish host Purdue. That’s Brees’ alma mater.