Brees announced Tuesday he will be back with the New Orleans Saints for the 2020 season, and he definitely did so on his terms:
That view from whatever picturesque peak that may be was Brees' way of telling the world via Instagram he's running it back for his 20th season.
"I look forward to the grind and the journey, for the reward at the end will be worth it!!!" Brees wrote on Instagram. "Love you #WhoDatNation. Let's make another run at it!"
As is the case for most anyone mulling a potentially life-changing decision, Brees and Saints coach Sean Payton were both adamant about the importance of a cool-off period after New Orleans' surprise early postseason exit. Brees needed time to decompress and evaluate his priorities at 41 years old.
This was never a matter of a veteran attempting to leverage new money out of an existing deal with his current franchise, but simply a case of a decorated star deciding whether he had enough in him to give it another go.
There is a financial element to this, though, as Brees' current contract voids before the 2020 league year begins. He's scheduled to account for $15.9 million of the Saints' cap as a result of past restructures and prorated pay to fit Brees' salary under New Orleans' total, meaning the quarterback is going to account for a big chunk of the Saints' cap. How much of that remains to be seen. While the Saints can be counted on to figure out how to make things work, this could affect New Orleans' plans at the position beyond 2020 because it might hinder the team's ability to retain restricted free agent Taysom Hill, and it almost certainly means backup Teddy Bridgewater is gone.
A franchise quarterback who can play at a high level is not a guaranteed commodity, so the Saints will push their chips to the center of the table for 2020 while they can still keep a guy who would win the New Orleans mayoral race in a landslide. It's smart short-term business, especially for a quarterback who proved with his play after returning from injury that he can definitely still hack it.
Brees completed over 74 percent of his passes for 2,571 yards, 25 touchdowns and just two interceptions in his final nine games. Though his final season statistics are deceiving due to a lack of games played, if one adds his Week 1 yardage total to his remaining total (removing Week 2 because he left after attempting just five passes) and stretches his per-game average of 294.1 yards over 16 contests, Brees again would have finished within shouting distance of a 5,000-yard season at 40 years old. He's worth waiting on for the Saints.
Of course, it's always easier to come back when you know you're still wanted. While Philip Rivers can't say the same about his run in Southern California, Brees will enjoy the luxury of returning to a team that still desires No. 9 under center after he showed very little decline (if any at all) in 2019, even after overcoming an in-season thumb injury that cost him five full games.
New Orleans has some cap gymnastics to do to remain competitive, but the Saints will always have a good chance with Brees in the lineup. They can sleep peacefully knowing that will be the case in 2020.