Nov 25, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is honored at halftime of the game between the New Orleans Saints and the Buffalo Bills at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Saints attempted to coax Drew Brees out of retirement

The New Orleans Saints reportedly reached out to Drew Brees earlier this week in a bid to gauge his interest about returning to the field.

The Saints, after all, have seen their quarterback carousel turn from Jameis Winston (torn ACL) to Trevor Siemian to Taysom Hill of late. With the latter two on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Saints (7-7) appear ready to put fourth-round rookie Ian Book under center for Monday’s game against the visiting Miami Dolphins (7-7).

The Saints recently signed veteran Blake Bortles to back up Book, but he didn’t appear to be the first choice.

The Times-Picayune reported Saints coach Sean Payton lobbied Brees to come out of retirement for just Monday’s game. Brees, who was on vacation in Hawaii with his family, reportedly “gave the idea some serious thought” before opting against resuming his playing career.

From the looks of Brees’ social media accounts, perhaps that thought came on the golf course.

Brees, 42, said he “wasn’t 100% confident he would be able to make the throws necessary to successfully lead the offense,” per NOLA.com.

A 13-time Pro Bowl selection, Brees currently is an NFL analyst on “Football Night in America.”

Brees led New Orleans to its lone Super Bowl championship following the 2009 season. He also became revered in the city for his leadership after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005.

–Field Level Media

Jan 17, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) blows a kiss to his family as he walks to the tunnel following a 30-20 loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a NFC Divisional Round playoff game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Saints QB Drew Brees retires

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees announced his retirement on Sunday.

The 42-year-old Brees is the NFL’s all-time leader with 80,358 career passing yards and 7,142 completions. His 571 touchdowns rank second to Tom Brady’s 581.

Brees spent the past 15 seasons (2006-20) with the Saints after playing his first five campaigns with the San Diego Chargers. He was a 13-time Pro Bowl selection.

“Til the very end, I exhausted myself to give everything I had to the Saints organization, my team, and the great city of New Orleans,” Brees said in his announcement on Instagram. “We shared some amazing moments together, many of which are emblazoned in our hearts and minds and will forever be a part of us. …

“I am only retiring from playing football, I am not retiring from New Orleans. This is not goodbye, rather a new beginning.”

Brees led New Orleans to its lone Super Bowl championship following the 2009 season.

–Field Level Media

Jan 17, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) blows a kiss to his family as he walks to the tunnel following a 30-20 loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a NFC Divisional Round playoff game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees reworks contract to save Saints cap space

Drew Brees, who is expected to retire in the coming months, might have handed the New Orleans Saints a parting gift Friday.

The 42-year-old quarterback agreed to restructure his contract, lowering his 2021 base salary to $1,075,000, the veterans’ minimum, multiple media outlets reported. He had been due to make $25 million, with the Saints getting socked with a $36 million salary-cap hit on his deal for the year.

The revised pact would save the Saints $24 million against the cap this year if they release Brees after June 1. That money could help a franchise that already was well over the salary-cap limit. New Orleans would face an additional $11.5 million in cap charges for Brees in 2022 based on the new deal.

Brees is the NFL’s career leader in completions (7,142) and passing yards (80,358). His 571 touchdown passes rank second behind the 581 of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, and his career average of 280 passing yards per game ranks second behind the 307.7 average of Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. Brady and Mahomes will square off in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Brees has played the past 15 years with the Saints after starting his career by playing five seasons for the then-San Diego Chargers. He has a career 172-114 regular-season record as a starter and a 9-9 record in the postseason, having led New Orleans to its lone Super Bowl championship following the 2009 season.

Saints coach Sean Payton said earlier this week that he expects to learn Brees’ decision on his future soon. He added that the club hopes to bring back Jameis Winston, who along with Taysom Hill served as Brees’ backups in 2020.

–Field Level Media

Nov 15, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Jameis Winston (2) talk on the sideline during the second half against the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Payton: Saints wanted Patrick Mahomes; now want Jameis Winston back

Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints are in meetings this week evaluating the roster, and the quarterback position remains a hot topic.

There is growing sentiment Drew Brees plans to retire, leaving Payton to plot for a future without his franchise quarterback.

New Orleans re-signed Taysom Hill last spring and picked up Jameis Winston, the former No. 1 pick, after he was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“We got great exposure for one year with Jameis Winston,” Payton said Wednesday in an interview with NFL Network. “We had enough time to see what we had with him as a player, as a leader, as an athlete. I really like what we had a chance to see. He was a tremendous leader on this team. That’s hard to do when you come in new, free agency, first year as a backup. That will be an important checkmark for us. A lot of times you want to hold your cards closer to the vest, and he is a free agent. He along with Taysom Hill, who’s in the building. We’ve said it all along — we’re going to develop and coach those guys.”

The Saints are 8-1 over the past two seasons without Brees, who had a hand injury in 2019 and fractured ribs last season. He has been the starting quarterback for the Saints since 2006. An official announcement from Brees on his status for next season is expected in the coming weeks, well before free agency begins in March.

Payton lamented a close call on Brees’ heir apparent in 2017, when the Saints held the No. 11 pick and had been on a stealthy campus visit to scout Patrick Mahomes. After a full day in Lubbock visiting Texas Tech coaches and working out Mahomes, Payton and the smitten Saints’ brass scurried back to the airport in an effort to cover up their affinity for the Red Raiders star.

“We came away from there blown away, impressed,” Payton said. “I know I came away from there saying, ‘That’s the best college quarterback I’ve ever evaluated.’ … There were all the other checks, the things you can’t see on video — his personality is fantastic, he’s one of those guys who was always hanging out in the gym in high school, he comes from an athletic family, he’s got a bright smile. It was all there.”

About 12 minutes before the Saints went on the clock in the first round of the draft, the Kansas City Chiefs traded up to No. 10 in a deal with the Buffalo Bills. Payton cringed, and knew exactly what was coming.

“Andy (Reid) went up to 10. As soon as that trade took place, we know that was for Mahomes,” Payton said. “He’s fun to watch. And certainly tough to defend.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) and quarterback Taysom Hill (7) during the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Saints’ next QB? Taysom Hill leads odds on 21 names

Taysom Hill watched in street clothes as Drew Brees struggled in the New Orleans Saints’ loss in the Divisional Playoffs on Sunday.

Brees gave a quick look back at the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome before heading into the tunnel, and likely into retirement.

Hill? His status as the heir apparent is uncertain after an up-and-down showing in four starts while Brees was injured during the regular season.

The 30-year-old is still under contract for one more season and did complete 72.7 percent of his passes for 928 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions in 16 games. Hill did not play in the playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to a knee injury, and not having his multi-dimensional skillset available did impact coach Sean Payton’s playbook.

Hill has been installed as the 5/2 favorite to take the first snap at quarterback for the Saints in Week 1 by SportsBetting.com.

The list of other candidates is deep and extremely varied.

Matthew Stafford is still under contract with the Lions, but there is speculation the veteran may ask for a fresh start elsewhere. He is being offered at 4/1 to land in New Orleans, followed by Jameis Winston (5/1), who is a free agent after playing as a backup in 2020 with the Saints.

A number of other veteran quarterbacks are expected to be available this offseason, and the Saints could be an appealing destination as an established contender with a number of offensive weapons.

Or does New Orleans double down on Hill for 2021 and look to the draft for a long-term answer for Payton to groom?

Saints Next Quarterback Odds (SportsBetting.com):
Taysom Hill 5/2
Matthew Stafford 4/1
Jameis Winston 5/1
Philip Rivers 6/1
Carson Wentz 10/1
Jimmy Garropolo 11/1
Alex Smith 13/1
Deshaun Watson 16/1
Andy Dalton 20/1
Taylor Heinicke 20/1
Ryan Fitzpatrick 22/1
Teddy Bridgewater 22/1
Jacoby Brissett 25/1
Marcus Mariota 25/1
Sam Darnold 25/1
Drew Lock 25/1
Cam Newton 30/1
Jared Goff 30/1
Mitchell Trubisky 40/1
Matt Ryan 50/1
Ben Roethlisberger 50/1

–Field Level Media

Jan 10, 2021; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) and defensive end Myles Garrett (95) celebrate after the AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Divisional round primer: Browns take aim at another upset

The Cleveland Browns get to celebrate their first postseason win in 26 years but their reward isn’t as fun as wakeboarding on Lake Erie.

The sixth-seeded Browns receive a date next Sunday (3:05 p.m. ET) against the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs.

The host Chiefs are also known as the defending Super Bowl champions and are heavy favorites to end Cleveland’s season in the AFC divisional round matchup.

But Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield isn’t willing to listen to the refrain, not after his team led the entire way in Sunday’s 48-37 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round.

“Nobody here is satisfied yet,” Mayfield said. “There’s a new standard and we’re going to try to keep it that way.”

The powerful Chiefs are well-rested after receiving a bye and quarterback Patrick Mahomes likely took note that Cleveland allowed Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger to complete 47 passes (in 68 attempts) for 501 yards.

Following is a quick glance at next week’s other three playoff games:

Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills
The second-seeded Bills halted their own playoff issues on Saturday when they edged the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 for their first postseason triumph since the 1995 season. Buffalo will host the fifth-seeded Ravens on Saturday (8:15 p.m. ET).

Quarterback Josh Allen has provided Buffalo with a toughness quality at quarterback and top target Stefon Diggs has been superb all season. The Ravens counter with Lamar Jackson, who passed for 179 yards and rushed for 136 in Sunday’s 20-13 slaying of the fourth-seeded Tennessee Titans.

Baltimore is more accustomed to postseason play than the Bills and will certainly hope its defense can rattle Allen. The Ravens impressively held Titans’ 2,000-yard back Derrick Henry to 40 yards on 18 carries.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Tom Brady and Drew Brees will square off for the third time this season when the fifth-seeded Buccaneers visit the second-seeded Saints on Sunday (6:40 p.m. ET). New Orleans and Brees won the first two matchups by a combined 72-26.

The Saints held Chicago out of the end zone until the final play of Sunday’s 21-9 victory in the NFC wild-card round and will look to frustrate Brady. The 43-year-old Brady threw just two touchdowns against New Orleans this season while being picked off five times and sacked on six occasions.

Brees tossed six touchdown passes without an interception against the Buccaneers. And it surely doesn’t hurt to have do-everything running back Alvin Kamara on your team.

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers
NFL MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers and the top-seeded Green Bay Packers are coming off a bye as they prepare to host the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday (4:35 p.m. ET).

The sixth-seeded Rams already won one game in which few gave them a chance as they recorded a 30-20 road win over the Seattle Seahawks. Jared Goff (fractured right thumb) was forced into action when backup quarterback John Wolford suffered a neck injury and he is going to need to be able to throw the ball better (he was 9 of 19 vs. Seattle) for the Rams to keep up with the Packers.

Rodgers and star wideout Davante Adams (tied Sterling Sharpe’s franchise record of 18 touchdown catches) have been terrorizing defenses all season. Green Bay figures to keep its foot on the pedal early and often as it knows the Rams aren’t equipped for a shootout.

–Field Level Media

Nov 22, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees prior to kickoff against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Saints won’t push for Brees to return vs. Chiefs

The New Orleans Saints have given no indication as to when quarterback Drew Brees will return to the lineup, but the team won’t rush the 41-year-old back, according to ESPN.

The Saints placed Brees on injured reserve on Nov. 20 with 11 fractured ribs and a collapsed lung. Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles would have been the earliest he was allowed to return, but Taysom Hill instead will make his fourth straight start.

New Orleans (10-2) has the best record in the NFC entering Week 14, but has a looming showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs (11-1, tied for first in the AFC) next week.

With Hill going 3-0 since replacing Brees in the lineup, the team apparently is inclined to make sure Brees is 100 percent before reinserting him into the starting lineup.

Brees sustained the injuries over the course of two weeks before leaving a Week 9 win over the San Francisco 49ers at halftime and not returning.

In his 20th season, Brees has thrown for 2,196 yards with 18 touchdowns and just three interceptions over nine games.

Hill, 30, has completed 71.6 percent of his passes for 629 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season. He’s also rushed 68 times for 362 yards and five touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Nov 15, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth (77) holds up a finger as he is carted off the field during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

NFL injury roundup: Saints QB Brees (ribs) to undergo MRI

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will undergo an MRI exam and an X-ray on his injured ribs after he was unable to finish Sunday’s 27-13 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, head coach Sean Payton said.

Brees, 41, did not play in the second half after he absorbed a big hit before halftime from San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Kentavius Street. Jameis Winston replaced Brees at quarterback to start the second half, and the Saints pulled away for a 27-13 win.

“I was not going to be able to be effective (in the second half),” Brees said after the game. “It had nothing to do with pain. It was definitely just what my body was going to be able to do or not be able to do.”

Street drew a penalty for roughing the passer on the hit that injured Brees. The Saints sent in Taysom Hill at quarterback with Brees lining up wide on the next play, and Hill stayed in for the next play as Brees headed to the sideline.

Brees wasn’t the only injury to watch for the Saints.

Receiver Tre’Quan Smith left the game with a possible concussion after taking a hard hit to his head late in the second quarter. Tight end Josh Hill also left the game with a concussion.

Defensively, the Saints lost two players in the third quarter. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore left with an oblique injury and defensive tackle Malcom Brown hurt his calf. Both were questionable to return but neither did.

Already crippled by injuries to their backfield, the 49ers lost rookie running back JaMycal Hasty to a broken collarbone after a tackle on a swing pass in the fourth quarter, while fellow back Jerick McKinnon suffered a stinger late in the game.

Niners safeties Johnathan Cyprien (hamstring) and Jared Mayden (quadriceps) were also forced out of the game.

–Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater departed their 46-23 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a right knee injury, but the severity wasn’t immediately known.

Bridgewater was hurt when he was sacked by Jason Pierre-Paul in the fourth quarter. He limped to the sideline with 5:10 remaining and soon headed to the locker room with team trainers.

“He got up and walked off,” Carolina coach Matt Rhule said after the 46-23 setback. “When it comes to knees and stuff like that, I don’t know. I haven’t had a chance to see him. I have no idea (of the severity).”

Bridgewater didn’t meet with reporters after the game. He completed 18 of 24 passes for 136 yards, two touchdowns and one interception before exiting.

–Los Angeles Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth suffered a torn MCL during their 23-16 win over the Seattle Seahawks and is headed to Injured Reserve, according to NFL.com.

Whitworth, who was carted off because of the left knee injury, also reportedly sustained damage to his PCL, although his ACL is intact.

The 38-year-old is in his 15th NFL season, the first 11 of which he spent with the Cincinnati Bengals before joining the Rams in 2017. The LSU alum has been selected to four Pro Bowls and is a two-time All-Pro. He has started 220 of 224 career games.

The Rams’ injury woes continued later in the game as kicker Kai Forbath was listed as questionable to return because of an ankle injury. The announcement came after Forbath missed an extra-point attempt with 6:22 left in the third quarter.

Rams safety Taylor Rapp also may have suffered an MCL sprain. He will have an MRI.

–Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said cornerback Neiko Thorpe re-injured his groin. He had missed the past six games due to a sports hernia.

Seahawks running back Travis Homer hurt his hand during the loss to the Rams.

–Quarterback Matthew Stafford will undergo X-rays on his thumb after injuring it during the Detroit Lions’ 30-27 win over the Washington Football Team.

Stafford had his thumb taped early in the game but still completed 24 of 33 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns.

Washington offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas and safety Deshazor Everett both exited the loss to the Lions with ankle injuries.

–Green Bay Packers running back Tyler Ervin hurt his ribs in the second quarter of the team’s 24-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was injured at the end of a 3-yard catch in the second quarter. The 27-year-old was ruled out to start the second half.

–Jaguars offensive tackle Cam Robinson suffered a shoulder injury during their loss to the Packers, while running back Chris Thompson left to be evaluated for a concussion.

–Las Vegas Raiders running back Jalen Richard hurt his chest in the first half of the team’s 37-12 victory over the Denver Broncos. Postgame X-rays were negative.

–Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Corey Peters went down with a knee injury and was carted off in the first half of the team’s 32-30 last-second win over the Buffalo Bills.

Cardinals tight end Darrell Daniels suffered an ankle injury and was carted to the locker room. Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell also left the game after injuring his calf in the third quarter.

–Baltimore Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams departed their 23-17 loss to the New England Patriots due to an ankle injury in the second quarter. He did not return.

Also, Baltimore cornerback Terrell Bonds sustained a knee injury early in the third quarter and was carted off the field. Tight end Nick Boyle was also carted off with a left knee injury with 6:14 left in the third quarter.

–Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Mackensie Alexander suffered a concussion in the team’s 36-10 loss to the Steelers. He will enter the league’s five-step concussion protocol.

–Field Level Media

Dec 8, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) is pressured by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Solomon Thomas (94) in the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The 49ers won, 48-46. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Saints lose Brees but defeat 49ers

Alvin Kamara scored three touchdowns and the host New Orleans Saints overcame the loss of Drew Brees to defeat the San Francisco 49ers 27-13 on Sunday.

Kamara rushed for two touchdowns and caught Brees’ final pass of the game for a second-quarter touchdown as the Saints (7-2) won their sixth consecutive game.

Brees did not play in the second half because of a rib injury and Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill played in his place. Brees completed 8 of 13 for 76 yards and Winston completed 6 of 10 for 63 yards. Hill did not throw a pass, but rushed eight times for 45 yards.

The injury to Brees apparently occurred when 49ers defensive lineman Kentavius Street was called for roughing the passer in the second quarter.

Nick Mullens made his fifth start in place of injured Jimmy Garropolo (ankle) for the 49ers (4-6) and completed 24 of 38 for 247 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

New Orleans led 17-10 at halftime and neither team scored in the third quarter.

Wil Lutz’s 23-yard field goal gave the Saints a 20-10 lead with 12:15 remaining.

After the Niners fumbled a punt, Kamara ran 1 yard for a touchdown with 7:29 remaining.

Robbie Gould’s 40-yard field goal cut the lead to 27-13 with 5:54 remaining.

San Francisco drove to the New Orleans 18, but Patrick Robinson intercepted Mullens in the end zone with 2:25 left.

The Niners took a 7-0 lead on the first possession of the game as Mullens’ 4-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Aiyuk completed a 13-play, 75-yard drive that produced the only first-quarter points.

San Francisco recovered a fumble by Deonte Harris on a punt return at the New Orleans 49-yard line. That led to Gould’s 32-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead.

The Niners then lost the ball on a punt return, leading to Lutz’s 49-yard field goal that cut their lead to 10-3.

Kamara ran 2 yards for a touchdown and caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Brees to give the Saints a 17-10 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Nov 1, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) drops back to pass against the Chicago Bears during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Saints QB Brees dealing with shoulder soreness

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was limited in practice Thursday for the second straight day as he deals with a sore passing (right) shoulder.

The 41-year-old Brees downplayed the situation after Wednesday’s practice and it is unclear whether there is any chance of him not being available for Sunday’s NFC South showdown between the Saints (5-2) and the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2).

The contest is also a battle between Brees and Tom Brady, 43, with the latter having thrown an all-time leading 561 touchdown passes, one ahead of Brees.

Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston are the New Orleans backups at quarterback. Winston spent the previous five seasons with the Buccaneers.

Brees has completed an NFL-high 73.1 percent of his passes while passing for 1,898 yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions this season.

Receiver Michael Thomas (ankle/hamstring) was limited in practice for the second straight day. Running back Alvin Kamara (foot) was a full participant on Thursday after being limited one day earlier.

–Field Level Media