MIAMI -- Drew Brees' coach talked openly this week about the quarterback's need to take some time to think about his future before making a decision.
Brees got the chance to speak for himself Friday and echoed his coach's sentiments, explaining the many factors that go into his decision-making process after completing his 19th season. First up on his list: health.
"I pride myself on toughness and durability and this is a tough sport. And some injuries are out of your control," Brees said during an appearance on NFL Network's Super Bowl Live. "Whatever is in your control, I'm going to try to be the very best that I can be at that. From a training perspective, diet, sleep habits, everything especially at this stage in my career. I'm not getting any younger. I tell myself I am. The age keeps going up. I tell myself I'm getting younger. But bottom line is you gotta work harder to maintain and continue to take care of your body.
"I take pride in being available for my team. To miss that time especially for something like a thumb where the rest of your body feels good. But you need the thumb to grip the ball. Tear a ligament, have the surgery, it's cast up for a little bit then you just rehab it. It was frustrating cause I'm kind of an antsy dude. Like I'm on the sidelines just grooving to the ball. 'I gotta get out there.' You know. Just doesn't feel right. I think that was a benefit for me cause five weeks of not getting hit. Obviously, the team was playing great. Everything happens for a reason. I actually came back stronger."
Brees didn't miss a beat when he returned, completing 74.5 percent of his passes for 2,571 yards, a 25-2 TD-INT ratio and a 119.4 passer rating in his final nine games of the 2019 regular season. That's MVP-level output from the 41-year-old quarterback, who demonstrated he clearly has enough in the tank to continue playing at a high rate.
But as he nears free agency, does he want to continue playing?
"Listen. There's definitely a process that takes place when you think about this," Brees said. "It's not like you just wake up one day and decide you want to retire. First and foremost, it's the time that I commit to playing the game of football. Maybe people don't realize just all that goes into that just mentally, emotionally, psychologically the way that you prepare for a season and go through training camp and go through the season. Time away from my family then just the mental aspect of what goes into the stress that's involved there.
"Listen. When I walk away, I don't want it to be because I can't play the game anymore because there's 32 teams saying, 'Alright, see ya later.' I want it to be on my own terms first. And I want it to be because I just want to spend more time with my family. I'm ready for that next chapter. When that time comes, I'll know. I also recognize when the season ends you just take some time and decompress and kind of just go through that process the right way."
Brees is in the midst of that process, enjoying his first week off after spending last week in Orlando preparing to play in the Pro Bowl. It's not likely he'll make a decision extremely soon, but with the Saints' future plans dependent first upon Brees' decision, we can't wait forever for him to come to a resolution. For now, though, it'll be about decompression before it's time to come to a decision.