Brian Allee-Walsh

Do the Saints have the NFL’s best quarterback depth chart?

Drew Brees. Teddy Bridgewater. Taysom Hill.

The quarterback depth chart has never so looked good in New Orleans, maybe never as good in the 53-year-old franchise’s colorful history, especially in light of what’s happening around the NFL as the start of the regular season creeps closer.

Consider:

In Indianapolis, franchise QB Andrew Luck shocked the football world by announcing his retirement at the age of 29, two weeks before the Colts’ season opener at the Los Angeles Chargers. Time will tell if Luck’s successor, Jacoby Brissett, is the real deal.

In Carolina, veteran Cam Newton is questionable to open the season after suffering a badly sprained left ankle in the Panthers’ third preseason game, with no proven quarterback behind him.

In Kansas City, the Chiefs signed journeyman Matt Moore to replace injured backup QB Chad Henne (broken ankle) in support of Magic Man Patrick Mahomes.

In Washington, 15th-overall pick Dwayne Haskins apparently isn’t ready to take the reins and Colt McCoy is still dealing with issues from a broken leg, so Case Keenum will open the season for the Redskins.

In Tampa Bay, quarterback whisperer Bruce Arians is trying to help Jameis Winston salvage his career with no real safety net in place. Backup Blaine Gabbert suffered a dislocated non-throwing shoulder last week, leaving unheralded Ryan Griffin and newly-signed undrafted rookie Vincent Testaverde in reserve.

In New York, Coach Pat Shurmur finds himself between a rock and hard place with Giants media and fans as aging Eli Manning tries to keep sixth-overall pick Daniel Jones at bay.

In Miami, rookie coach Brian Flores still hasn’t settled on his starter. Perhaps, Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh Rosen will make a favorable impression in Thursday night’s pre-season finale against the Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (7 p.m.).

And so on and so forth.

I haven’t even mentioned other NFL cities where young, talented quarterbacks are being asked to shoulder a heavy burden, such as Houston (Deshaun Watson), Baltimore (Lamar Jackson), Tennessee (Marcus Mariota), Arizona (Kyler Murray), Buffalo (Josh Allen) and San Francisco (Jimmy Garappolo).

In the past, I have wondered how the Saints would fare if Brees missed significant playing time due to injury, often referring to him as the one player Coach Sean Payton could least afford to lose. Even going so far as suggesting the Saints would forfeit any real chance of reaching their season-long objectives without Brees.

I don’t feel that way this season, not after watching the steady progression of Bridgewater and Hill under center.

That’s not to say Brees is ready to be put out to pasture. At age 40-plus, he can still drive the train. But he no longer has to be the means to an end.

If push came to shove, I believe Bridgewater and/or Hill are capable of taking the Black and Gold where they want to go, this season and beyond.

Drew Brees. Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill.

Other NFL teams should be so fortunate.

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