As has been the case since 2006, Drew Brees provided top-tier quarterback play for the New Orleans Saints again in 2017.
2017 FINAL ROSTER: Drew Brees, Chase Daniel, Taysom Hill
INJURED RESERVE: None
2018 FREE AGENTS: Chase Daniel (unrestricted)
POSITION REVIEW: QUARTERBACKS
The Saints featured a much more balanced offense in 2017 as the improved run game ensured that Brees didn’t have to carry the group each game, but he was up to the challenge when necessary, like when he completed 11 passes in a row to lead a 15-point fourth-quarter comeback against Washington in Week 11.
Brees completed 72 percent of his passes on the year, setting a new NFL record for a single season. Sure, he didn’t match what had become his typical statistics of 30-plus touchdowns and around 5,000 passing yards, but his efficiency was crucial for a Saints offense that finished second in total yards.
Brees finished with a 103.9 passer rating, ranking second in the NFL. It was also his highest mark since 2013 (104.7).
The efficient performance also included better ball security as Brees threw just eight interceptions. Part of the reduction was a result of fewer passes as his 536 attempts were his fewest since 2009 (514), but his 1.5 percent interception rate was the lowest of his career.
Brees once again silenced anyone skeptical about his decline, though now that he’s 39, those critics skeptics will remain.
Before continuing on Brees, who made his 11th Pro Bowl, it’s worth noting he wasn’t the only quarterback with a significant role by the end of the year. A shrewd coaching decision from Sean Payton and special teams coach Mike Westhoff resulted in Hill appearing in the final five regular-season games as he became a core member of the special teams with the return and coverage units.
Hill made an immediate impact with four tackles, including two in his NFL debut in Week 13 against the Panthers. He played just one snap on offense, though, as coaches decided against using him for any trick plays.
Daniel, meanwhile, was active for every game, but played just five snaps, appearing only in the Week 10 blowout win over the Bills. He didn’t throw a pass in his brief fourth-quarter appearance.
As for Brees, his strong play continued into the postseason as he had a 100.8 passer rating in the two playoff games. His two interceptions against the Vikings in the divisional round were costly, but he threw three touchdown passes after those errors to help the Saints take the lead twice in the fourth quarter before the devastating loss.
Signing Brees to a new contract is the Saints’ top priority this offseason.
Brees says he wants to be back. General Manager Mickey Loomis said the Saints want Brees back. The only question now is the money and length of the deal as well as when the two sides can reach an agreement. Brees should command in the ballpark of…