Garrett Grayson will be the apprentice to the maestro Drew Brees this year, but the team could be his in 2016.
AP Images Ben Liebenberg
The first time he met Drew Brees, the Saints’ third-round draft pick, Garrett Grayson, described himself as “a deer in headlights.”
Meeting the hero who brought a Super Bowl win to New Orleans can be overwhelming, especially when you’ve been positioned to take over his job.
Brees has nothing to worry about this year. Without injury, he is expected to be under center for all of the team’s games this season. But it may be his last. Time is ticking ever faster on the 36-year-old quarterback’s career, and a huge ballooning contract is bearing down on him like an unblocked middle linebacker.
This year, Brees will earn a total of $26.4 million, up 43 percent from the $18.4 he earned last year. His “dead cap” allotment — the amount the team is charged toward their league-mandated salary cap, should he no longer be with them — is $33.55 million. In 2016, he’ll add another $1 million to his salary, bringing it to $27.4 million, but his dead cap hit drops to $7.4 million. For comparison, Grayson — who is expected to be the team’s third-string quarterback — will make approximately $435,000 his rookie year.
What does it mean?
That all depends on the parties involved, and those who would like to be involved.
The Saints and Brees could agree to an extension that would reduce his cap hit and keep him in New Orleans until he retires. The Saints could trade Brees after this season to a team like the Jets or the Bills, who feel they are a quarterback away from contending for a Super Bowl title. Or they could do nothing, which is highly doubtful, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent in 2017.
The good news is Brees is in place this year, which should allow Grayson time to adjust to life in the NFL and learn head coach Sean Payton’s system under a master technician and perennial Pro Bowler.
While the third-round pick the Saints used to get Grayson could have been used to get another defensive pass rusher or offensive lineman, the Saints brain trust has an eye on the future.
In the lead-up to the draft, experts compared Grayson to Brees, saying despite his 6’2” build, Grayson is accurate, and his throwing mechanics and proper weight transfer allow him to drive the ball to his receiver. He started 35 games at Colorado State, and his production improved each season.
“He throws with anticipation, which is rare for a college quarterback these days,” said NFL.com draft expert Mike Mayock. “He won’t overwhelm with his physical traits, but I think the whole is better than the composite parts. He has a game similar to Drew Brees.”
For the past couple of years there was speculation that the Saints would draft Brees’ heir apparent, and for years they didn’t pick a worthy successor. Last year, Brees said he felt like he could play until he’s 40. I’d like to see the greatest Saint retire in New Orleans, but maybe a trade after this season would be beneficial. In this day and age, a team can be built into a champion or be dismantled overnight. In Seattle, Russell Wilson proved a QB doesn’t need age or experience to guide his team to the Super Bowl and win it.
Thankfully (hopefully), Saints fans won’t have to worry about succession just yet. But it’s coming. Let’s hope it’s affable, that we don’t see a dropoff in results, and instead witness the beginning of a new foundation for many championship runs to come.
Drew Brees’ 5-Year Contract Financials
|Year||Base Salary||Signing Bonus||Workout Bonus||Cap Hit||Dead Cap|
|2017||Unrestricted Free Agent|
Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football.