America farewells one of the greats as Drew Brees retires

The wait is over — and so is Drew Brees’ Hall of Fame career.

Fifty-six days after the Saints’ season ended and one day before NFL free agency begins, Brees announced his retirement on Instagram.

It’s the decision that was expected from Brees all throughout last season but the long wait and recent videos of his training sparked some chatter that maybe he reconsidered.

“Each day I poured my heart and soul into being your quarterback,” Brees wrote on social media to accompany a video where his four children announced their father’s retirement to spend more time with his family.

“’Til the very end, I exhausted myself to give everything I had to the Saints organisation, my team, and the great city of New Orleans.

“We shared some amazing moments together, many of which are emblazoned in our hearts and minds and will forever be a part of us. You have moulded me, strengthened me, inspired me, and given me a lifetime of memories.”

Brees spent 15 of his 20 seasons with the Saints, arriving as a free agent just before Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city and becoming a beloved philanthropist with his community presence. The once-hapless Saints were 1-5 in their playoff history from inception in 1967 until Brees wound up there instead of with the Dolphins, who chose Daunte Culpepper.

Drew Brees reacts after throwing a touchdown in the 2010 NFC Championship game.Source:AFP

Brees holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. Picture: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images/AFPSource:AFP

“You came to us at our lowest point. You led us to our highest,” the Saints wrote on Twitter. “You represented our state, city, and team with incredible professionalism, class, and toughness. We are forever grateful for the immeasurable impact you and your family had on this city.”

“Congrats my friend on an incredible career,” added Tom Brady. “Thank you for the inspiration and dedication on and off the field! Look forward to seeing what’s next.”

The Saints went to the playoffs nine times during Brees’ tenure and beat the Peyton Manning-led Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.

The final season ended with a loss to the Brady-led eventual Super Bowl champion Buccaneers in the playoffs. After that game, Brees said he needed time to think over his options and he lowered his 2021 salary to the league minimum while the wait continued.

“My goal for the last 15 years was striving to give to you everything you had given to me and more,” Brees wrote. “I am only retiring from playing football, I am not retiring from New Orleans. This is not goodbye, rather a new beginning. Now my real life’s work begins!”

Brees exits as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards (80,358), though he will soon be passed by Brady. He is second to Brady in touchdown passes (571). Yet somehow he was not one of the 10 quarterbacks included on the NFL’s list of the 100 greatest players of all time released in 2020.

We thank you, @drewbrees.

But, we won't miss you.

A former second-round pick of the Chargers, Brees could enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the same class as Philip Rivers, who retired in January. They were teammates with the Chargers for two seasons before Rivers — acquired when the Chargers drafted Eli Manning and traded him to the Giants in 2004 — replaced Brees.

Who replaces Brees? Russell Wilson’s reported trade list includes the Saints, but there is no indication the Seahawks will deal their Pro Bowler. The more likely options are to re-sign free agent Jameis Winston or turn to Taysom Hill.

Hill, coach Sean Payton’s beloved gadget quarterback, re-signed a four-year, $140 million contract Sunday but all years are voidable, according to ESPN. So, it’s really just an avenue to free up $7.5 million of cap space as Hill gets a $1 million salary and about $11 million in bonuses for 2021.

— New York Post

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