It's a scenario that almost happened in 2006 had it not been for the soon-to-be free agent suffering a torn labrum to end the 2005 season. That injury re-shaped more than just Brees' free agency plans; it changed the next 14 years of his career.
If that doesn't occur, Brees lands with the QB-needy Miami Dolphins instead of Daunte Culpepper, who doesn't get traded from the Vikings. This move likely means then-Dolphins coach Nick Saban doesn't leave for Alabama in January 2007, therefore ending their hopes of becoming a dynasty.
No Saban in Tuscaloosa means college football is altered forever. But what does Brees not joining the Saints mean for that franchise and the city of New Orleans at-large?
An NFL Network panel considered the potential ripple effects.
Dave Dameshek believes a Brees-Saban pairing in Miami, stability withstanding, would do two things: 1. limit the Patriots and Saban's famous friend Bill Belichick to winning "two-thirds" of the Lombardi trophies they have now. And 2. Push the Saints to draft national title-winning QB Vince Young out of Texas No. 2 overall over USC running back Reggie Bush in 2006. Unless, of course, they bucked that conventional idea and went with USC's Matt Leinart?
Young was a two-time Pro Bowler who was named Rookie of the Year in '06 and Comeback Player of the Year in 2009 as a member of the Titans before being out of the league by 2011. If he lands with Sean Payton rather than Jeff Fisher to start his career, Cole Wright isn't so sure Young's star fizzles out the way it eventually did.
A Young-Payton pairing could've worked out but, if it hadn't, Daniel Jeremiah envisions that Payton would've picked up and moved to a place he's long been tied to: Dallas.
"They would've won. They would've won big," Jeremiah said of Payton coaching a Tony Romo-led Cowboys squad. Jim Trotter took it a step further and questioned whether or not the strong-minded Payton would be able to share credit with the also strong-minded Jerry Jones long-term. The room was a little split by that idea.
As for the Saints, a move to Los Angeles would've been their fate, Dameshek theorized. Owner Tom Benson actually flirted with the idea of moving just before the organization's 2006 resurgence and pegged L.A., San Antonio and Albuquerque, New Mexico as cities he was considering for possible relocation.
No Brees and Payton, in addition to no Super Bowl XLIV victory in 2009, likely means the synergy between the city and the team's success sadly never materializes. A less than ideal ending to a "What If" that adds a whole new perspective to what we ended up with in real life.