The Saints' Drew Brees has won the NFL passing yardage title five times in his Hall of Fame career. Could he set the league record with No. 6 this season? He is the +750 third-favorite on 5Dimes' NFL props. Is that wager worth your money? Let's examine.
Could Brees Be Elsewhere In 2016?
There can be no argument that Brees is the best New Orleans Saints player of all-time and the most popular (sorry Archie Manning). In fact, I'd argue that no current NFL player means more to his city than Brees does to New Orleans simply for what he and that team did post-Katrina there. Of course he also led the Saints to their only Super Bowl title.
But I wonder whether Brees will be a Saint next season. If I had to give a percentage I'd say 85 percent yes, but there is a school of thought that if Brees regresses this season at age 36 -- he's the third-oldest starting quarterback in the NFL -- that the team could turn things over to Garrett Grayson, whom the Saints took out of Colorado State in the third round of this year's draft. NFL Draft expert Mike Mayock has said Grayson reminds him of Brees.
Why would the team think of dumping Brees? Well, mainly because he would carry a cap hit of a whopping $27.4 million in 2016. This season it's $26.4 million and why the club had to move some guys this offseason (more on that in a minute). There's no way Brees plays at that number next year at age 37. That deal will have to be reworked. It's not exactly normal for quarterbacks to perform at a high level at age 37. Not everyone is Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. And, hey, if the Indianapolis Colts could move on from Manning, then the Saints could do the same with Brees.
Hall Of Fame Numbers To Be Sure
Last season, Brees completed 69.2 percent of his passes for 4,952 yards, 33 touchdowns and 17 picks for a rating of 97.0. The yardage tied Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger for the NFL lead. Brees also won the passing title in 2012 (5,177 yards), 2011 (then-record 5,476 yards), 2008 (5,069) and 2006 (4,418). Those five passing titles tie Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen and Dan Marino for the most all time. Brees has passed for 56,033 yards in his career, the fourth-most all time. He probably won't catch No. 3 Marino this season as he has 61,361. Brees has passed for 43,685 yards since joining New Orleans in 2006 and is the seventh quarterback in NFL history with 40,000 passing yards with one franchise. Brees accomplished it in his 132nd game with the Saints, surpassing Marino (153 games with Dolphins) as the fastest quarterback to reach 40,000 yards with one team. Brees also has seven games with five TD passes and no picks. That's a league record. He also holds the league mark for consecutive 300-yard games with nine -- the Colts' Andrew Luck fell one game short of that last season.
So with all that brilliance, why don't I like Brees on this NFL odds prop at 5Dimes? It's because I think that the Saints will run more than they have in years. The team traded Brees' favorite target, Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham, to Seattle this offseason for center Max Unger and a first-round pick. Graham had 85 catches (124 targets) for 889 yards and 10 scores last season. They also traded rising young receiver Kenny Stills to Miami for linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and a third-round pick. Stills had 63 catches (85 targets) for three TDs and a team-high 931 yards. It's not that Brees is lacking for weapons as he still has Marques Colston and Brandin Cooks at receiver; I was a big fan of Cooks to win Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014 but he was limited to 10 games due to injury. The speedster caught 53 passes for 550 yards and three scores.
The team's big offseason acquisition was Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller, and he gives the Saints a great duo in the backfield along with Mark Ingram, who was re-signed. Ingram is coming off his best season, rushing for 964 yards and nine scores in only 13 games. If you have Ingram and Spiller, you are going to run more. Plus that means fewer hits on Brees, although he gets rid of the ball so quickly it's not easy to sack him.
NFL Free Pick: I'm sure Brees will get his 4,500 yards or so, but I think his days of leading the NFL in that category are over.