New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has already accomplished enough during his illustrious NFL career to be safely considered a first-ballot lock to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
He led the Saints to a Super Bowl title in 2009 while the city of New Orleans worked to rebuild after being decimated by Hurricane Katrina; he has earned All-Pro honors four times; he has led the league in passing yards six times and touchdown passes four times; and he has won the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award twice.
Heading into the 2016 season, nobody knew what to expect from Brees. The 6-foot, 209-pounder celebrated his 37th birthday during the offseason, and it was no secret that the Saints’ roster was a flat-out mess. As it has turned out, the nine-time Pro Bowler responded by playing some of the best football of his career. He reminded everyone that he doesn’t need a supporting cast full of All-Pros to play at a high level. In fact, we’d go as far as saying that the Saints could very well be in a similar position to that of the Cleveland Browns right now if they didn’t have Brees under center.
In a game against the Denver Broncos, Brees became just the third quarterback in NFL history — joining Brett Favre and Peyton Manning — to throw 450 or more touchdown passes (Tom Brady will be joining the club later this season). What set Brees’ accomplishment apart from Favre, Manning, and eventually Brady, is the fact that he reached such an amazing milestone without ever having a Pro Bowl or All-Pro wide receiver at his disposal.
Granted, he did have a couple of All-Pro tight ends to throw to — Antonio Gates during his time with the San Diego Chargers and Jimmy Graham for five years in New Orleans — but he never had the quality of wide receivers who Favre (Sterling Sharpe, Antonio Freeman, and Donald Driver), Brady (Randy Moss, and Wes Welker), or Manning (Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Demaryius Thomas, and Emmanuel Sanders) had during their respective careers. Does Brees deserve to be a contender for the title of best NFL quarterback of all time? Here’s our take on the situation.