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Brees: Crucial fumble was result of miscommunication

Drew Brees' storied career will land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but his fourth-quarter fumble helped end his team's season far too early Sunday.

New Orleans' 26-20 wild-card loss to Minnesota is obviously not solely the fault of Brees. From what he said afterward Sunday, it sounds as if his significant loss of possession wasn't entirely his doing, either.

"The fumble was really frustrating because there was a miscommunication as to what we were doing and the ball should've been out of my hands and all of a sudden that wasn't the route that was run and so now I'm just trying to throw the ball into the dirt to avoid a sack, right?" Brees explained. "And right as my hand's going back, he just kind of gets a piece of my arm and that ball comes out. So, I'm really disappointed in that. That never should have happened."

On first-and-10 at the Minnesota 20, Brees received a snap and dropped to pass. The Saints were trailing by three with 4:26 to play in regulation and appeared poised to score a go-ahead touchdown when Brees surveyed the field, not knowing Danielle Hunter was bearing down on him. As the play unfolded in an unexpected manner, Brees reared to throw when Hunter struck his arm, knocking the ball free.

Minnesota recovered and burned two and a half minutes of game clock before New Orleans was able to regain possession, ultimately settling for a game-tying field goal. It was the last time the Saints would hold the ball.

We'll likely never know who it was that didn't run his route as intended. We do know it cut short a postseason run that seemed destined to include at least two games for the Saints. Just look around to see if anyone legitimately had the Vikings winning this game.

We also know Brees isn't getting any younger.

"You invest so much into it and have invested so much into it and so you understand that these opportunities are few," Brees said. "So, yeah it's disappointing if you're not the one holding up the trophy at the end of the year. It's disappointing."

Disappointing indeed. Brees' future is uncertain, as his contract is similar to Tom Brady's in that it fully voids on the first day of the new league year and also includes a provision that prevents him from being franchise tagged. Backup Teddy Bridgewater, a potential pick for the future of the position, also has a contract that expires on the same day due to the voiding of the final two years of the deal.

If nothing happens before then, the Saints won't have a single quarterback on their roster on the first day of the new league year (Taysom Hill's contract also expires then). Brees could also decide to call it a career, though a loss like Sunday's would seem to drive the competitor back to the field next season. There are plenty of decisions to be made in New Orleans this offseason for a team that could look different under center in 2020.

"I'm not making any comments on that other than, you know, I've told you guys this for the last couple years: I've always just taken it one year at a time and kind of re-evaluate each offseason and then find the things that I want to get better at and move on," Brees said.

That process begins Monday.

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