The buzz surrounding future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees has changed throughout the offseason. First, fans wanted to know if he was going to keep playing or call it quits. Then, once that was settled, fans wanted to know if he'd stay in New Orleans or go elsewhere (though that one was much less of an intriguing case).
Once he signed on in New Orleans on a two-year, $50 million deal, fans began to speculate that this may be his final season, especially after Sean Payton may have let it slip on air that Brees could be calling it after 2020. The coach has since called himself a "dummy" or making such comments.
Now, another question has been settled, this time surrounding Brees' post-playing career. According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, Brees has decided to sign with NBC Sports where he will "be groomed as the potential replacement for Cris Collinsworth" during the station's broadcasts of "Sunday Night Football," though he'll likely be involved with Notre Dame broadcasts first. This report comes in the wake of recent news that ESPN was strongly pursuing Brees for a similar role on "Monday Night Football" broadcasts.
ESPN had previously pursued other big name quarterbacks, such as Tony Romo, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. Romo, as is well known by now, has become a color commentary guru with CBS, while Manning turned down the opportunity and Philip Rivers decided to continue his NFL career.
Now that Brees has reportedly made things official with NBC Sports, Marchand says that Dan Orlovsky and Louis Riddick are two intriguing options for ESPN to consider. Sources have also told him that Kurt Warner and Nate Burleson are external figures the network is looking to bring in. ESPN was apparently thought to be the highest bidder, but what may have sealed the deal was NBC's selling point of "it being the best place to succeed" in his post-playing career.
Brees is the second big replacement plan in order on NBC Sports, as the network has agreed to have Mike Tirico succeed Al Michaels when the 75-year-old broadcasting legend finally decides to call it quits, though Marchand reports he "has no plans to retire."
As for Brees, we're unsure of his plans to retire. As previously mentioned, Saints head coach Sean Payton retracted his comments on Brees' 2020 season being his last. This would seem to make the most sense, barring any major structural changes to the contract, as Spotrac lists that Brees carries a dead cap of $22.65 million in 2021.
Without a definite option behind him, though, the Saints shouldn't be in too much of a rush to worry about his replacement, seeing as he's still performing at an elite level into his 40s. Brees broke several NFL records in 2019, recorded a career-high 116.3 passer rating and allowed his teammate, Michael Thomas, to become the all-time single season reception leader.