To be kind, the New Orleans Saints have not had the greatest offseason in the history of the National Football League. This might rank as one of the worst off-seasons a team has ever had. It certainly would be in the top ten of bad off-seasons in the history of the NFL.
A long protracted negotiation that broke down and resulted in Drew Brees playing under the Franchise Tag would have pleased no one.
During the 2005 season, Mr. Brees learned first-hand the uncertainty and risks playing under the franchise tag. He would not have been happy repeating that in 2012. Saints ownership and fans wanted to have the security of having their guy under contract. Everyone is happy and Brees is set for life.
However, is Drew Brees still a championship winning quarterback? Mr. Brees is 33. He will be 34 in January. Forget how Drew Brees played this last season. At his age, Brees is now battling against Father Time.
And Father Time is unbeaten.
There have been 46 Super Bowls with 92 different starting quarterbacks. (I realize there have been some repeat QBs but let’s just stick with that number for now). There have been plenty of QBs who were 34 years old (or older) who made it to a Super Bowl, but winning a Lombardi Trophy at 34 and older is another matter altogether.
Here’s the list:
Bart Starr, Brad Johnson and Len Dawson – 34
Roger Staubach – 35
Jim Plunkett – 36
Johnny Unitas, John Elway – 37
Elway - 38
Eight guys 34 and over started at QB for a Super Bowl winner. It is technically seven since Elway repeated (very impressive feat at those ages). Johnny Unitas had to be relieved by 36-year-old Earl Morral because of injury.
The Super Bowl winning QBs tend to be in their late 20’s or early 30’s. Notice that the last one 34 or older was Brad Johnson…10 seasons ago. In addition to Brees, three projected starting signal callers enter the 2012 season at 34 or older: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Matt Hasselbeck. Certainly there are a couple of compelling names on that list. You also might be shocked to learn Mike Vick and Tony Romo are 32 and Carson Palmer will turn 33.
Drew Brees can still make some noise in the playoffs. But based on recent history of quarterbacks 34 and older, the odds are against him winning another championship. Throw in the turmoil of the Saints’ off-season, year-long suspension of their coach and a shaky defense and the Saints will be lucky to get to the playoffs this season.