Right now, the thought process in the NFL is if you don’t have a quarterback, you don’t have a shot to win. Recent history supports that theory. Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady have been the starting quarterbacks on the last five Super Bowl winning teams. They all range from good to maybe the best that has ever played. Quality quarterback play has proved to be essential to competing for a championship; but what does a team do if a good quarterback is all they have?
For instance, the New Orleans Saints have needs on both sides of the ball. The team desperately needs impact players at the linebacker position. The need help at the cornerback position. The offensive line needs improvement. The running game has not produced consistently. Marques Colston is getting up in age and made several horrible plays in clutch moments last season. With the departure of Jimmy Graham via trade, Drew Brees seems to be the team’s only valuable asset.
In the Graham trade the team did get an extra first-round pick. That’s nice, but if the team’s goal is to get younger and to fill a litany of holes on the roster, one extra pick is not going to do it.
What if the team decided to trade Drew Brees and anyone else who might bring compensation so the team can start over? The idea on the surface seems laughable, but let’s at least consider the possibilities.
Brees would get the team another first-round pick, in this year’s draft or the next. The team would unquestionably struggle this upcoming season, giving the team another potential top-five pick. So, if the team made no other moves that would still give them a grand total of four first-round selections within the next two years. If the team moved Brees it would likely move other quality players as well. Cameron Jordan, Keenan Lewis, and even Jarius Byrd could be looked to be moved.
Right now according to spotrac.com, the Saints are $1,683,901 under the cap. That means for a team that was sub .500 last season, the Saints don’t have the money to make real improvements. The team will need to make roster adjustments to sign all their draft picks. Moving Brees and others seems drastic, but only in the short term. This would be a long-term approach to fixing the problem. The team currently has over $21 million in dead money on their books.
If the team moved Brees and used the picks well, they could be right back in serious contention within two to three seasons. Holding onto him and continuing business as usual may make the hole the team has to climb out of even bigger.
The Chicago Bears have the same problem, sort of. They have a high priced quarterback in Jay Cutler but not much else. The team has already parted ways with Brandon Marshall and is not bringing back Charles Tillman or Lance Briggs. The Bears have a ton of needs and for erratic as Cutler’s play can be, many in the NFL still think he can be a top flight talent. Furthermore, bringing him back as the leader of the locker room may not be wise. Moving him could be both best for him and the team.
This year’s crop of quarterbacks coming out in the draft is not star-studded. There are questions about both of the potential first-round possibilities. Teams gamble with guys who have already played in the NFL versus gambling with unknown quantities. While it’s hard to imagine Brees in say, a Tennessee Titans uniform or Jay Cutler as a New York Jet, stranger things have happened.
Photo courtesy: AP