Brian Allee-Walsh

Drew Brees is 40, but the Saints may find some new tricks for their legendary QB

For years, we have seen New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees incorporate a vast array of receivers into the team’s highly efficient passing game.

It doesn’t matter the receiver’s name, his salary or how he arrived on the Black and Gold scene, if he’s in the game, then he’s in the game, right?

The same can be said of Brees as a potential receiver.

Listening to No. 9 talk during his post-practice presser Thursday at the team’s facility, it’s possible that Brees could take his decoy role to the next level and be on the receiving end of a pass or two, maybe even one resulting in points.

Or, at the very least, be made to look to look like a potential target for situational quarterback Taysom Hill or backup QB Teddy Bridgewater.

“There’s always evolution (to the playbook),’‘ Brees said, smiling. “I think it’s something that you have in there to keep guys interested and intrigued, especially the veteran guys.

“If they’re going to split me out as much, I’m going to need to have some routes that I can at least start working on. That’s part of the fun.’‘

There may be more pressing matters facing the Saints coaching staff this off-season than creating new ways to put the ball in Brees’ capable hands. But I can’t think of a higher priority for coach Sean Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael than to keep the 40-year-old quarterback fully engaged in the playbook.

And if it means giving Brees more responsibilities, then so be it.

I suspect he’s up to the task.

“At the end of the year, we understand that everybody is analyzing and studying your stuff,’‘ he said. “So you can’t come back and keep doing the same stuff over and over now.

“You have your bread and butter stuff and then you find ways to mix it up and tweak that slightly. I like looking at new concepts. It might be a great Mike Thomas route, or Ted Ginn route or Alvin Kamara route or whatever. That’s fun, too. So it’s a new challenge to incorporate and develop a comfort level enough so that becomes a part of what you do.’‘

As I said, there may higher priorities facing the Saints right now than giving Brees routes to run and possibly putting him in harm’s way. For instance:

n One, why not make a run at free agent defensive tackle Gerald McCoy whose $13 million salary and apparent declining production made him expendable in Tampa Bay? Newly-signed veteran defensive end Wes Horton fills a need in the Saints D-line rotation but he’s not Gerald McCoy.

n And two, this may not be the time to address a new contract/extension for WR Michael Thomas. But, he is entering the final year of his rookie deal and clearly deserves more than his scheduled base salary of $1,148,041 in 2019. Thomas is saying and doing all the right things this off-season, but make no mistake he sees himself as the NFL’s first $20 million-a-year receiver.

Meantime, Brees continues to push on in the early stages of his 19th NFL season, looking for new challenges and new ways to do the same old job while trying to maintain his boyish enthusiasm at age 40.

Brian Allee-Walsh, a longtime Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.
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