There’s no need to force anything.
As long as the Saints have Drew Brees, and he remains upright and effective, there isn’t a pressing need to find the next quarterback. There is, of course, merit to locating said player and letting him marinate behind the scenes until it’s time to make a transition, but that process can start later.
Considering the number of holes the Saints have to fill, it would be foolish to enter next week’s draft with the intent to select a quarterback at all costs. If there’s someone they like, and he happens to fall and the value to great to pass up, then pull the trigger.
Otherwise, there’s no need to waste a bullet.
It seemed this storyline was put to rest at last month’s owner’s meetings when New Orleans coach Sean Payton said his team would not be drafting Marcus Mariota. But this story was brought back to life Wednesday when Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole reported the Saints have worked out Baylor’s Bryce Petty and Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson.
Alone, this isn’t wildly notable. The Saints met with Florida State’s Jameis Winston at the combine and meet with hundreds of players during the pre-draft process, some of which happen to play quarterback. Only a handful of those guys will ever wear black and gold. It’s due diligence and a process that helps teams set their draft boards and accurately value their picks.
What took this to the next level is that Cole, citing multiple sources, said the Saints are expected to select a quarterback within the early rounds of the draft and want to have a plan in place to transition away from Brees over the next three or four years.
The second piece of that equation might come off like another splash report, and it does sound a bit salacious, but is obvious. Brees is 36. In three or four years, he’s going to be 39 or 40. It’s possible that he’ll still be a productive quarterback at that point, but his best years will be well behind him. It’s good business to find the next quarterback before you need to find the next quarterback.
But as far as forcing a pick and getting locked into a position at a specific point in the draft — well, that doesn’t make sense. Even if they pull the trigger, there’s no guarantee that the Saints will select the quarterback who will replace Brees this year.
If he hangs around for three or four years, then the guy they draft would be a free agent by the time New Orleans is ready to make the transition. If that guy is any good, chances are he’ll be looking to move on when his contract expires in search for an opportunity to play.
Now, it’s possible the Saints could draft someone, give him a couple years to learn behind the scenes, and then part ways with Brees so that player could take over. But that player would have to win the job. If Brees remains a top-10 quarterback, that isn’t the kind of asset you walk away from unless you are absolutely sure you have the next guy. If he is, then you’re OK with cutting bait a little early and moving on. Brees was already part of this equation once in San Diego. But if you aren’t sure, you stick with the incumbent as long as possible.
That’s why it was always dumb to think Brees could be traded this offseason. You fight and claw to find franchise quarterbacks. Those who locate these guys are typically the teams playing for something in January or February. Everyone else spends their time searching for the guy who can get them there.
When you have the luxury of having a franchise quarterback, there’s no need to force a pick. It often doesn’t work out well. Ask all the teams trying to find their Brees, Brady or Manning.