Drew Brees doesn’t seem like the most logical free agency target for the Carolina Panthers at first and that would be because he isn’t. Not, at any rate, by the logic you’ll find on most sports blogs.
Most bloggers wouldn’t look past his multiple recent quotes in which he unequivocally states that he wants to be a Saint for life. Others would consider that Carolina already has a franchise quarterback and, if 2017 is any indication, Brees is not ready to ride a clipboard into retirement. Those bloggers would stop thinking about this hypothetical right then and there because they lack imagination.
The chances are very real that Brees could end up leaving New Orleans, as the Saints only have about $30 million in cap space to work with. That’s not great news for them given the price of a franchise quarterback is now well north of $20 million per year.
But what would the Panthers do with the ageing quarterback? Easy, I say: you sign him and put him at kicker. I’m making a baseless assumption that, at this point in their careers, Brees and fellow free agent Graham Gano are athletically very similar. The Panthers, in this scenario, let Gano walk and sign Brees to take his place.
Not only does this bolster the Panthers, it also potentially weakens all three of their division rivals. Keep in mind that the Bucs may not be sold on Jameis Winston and the Falcons could, at any minute, get tired of propping up Matt Ryan. Taking a free agent quarterback of Brees’ caliber off the board could be a major coup for Carolina.
As for the Panthers, the kicker conversion makes sense if you really think about it. While Gano offered league-leading efficiency in field goals in 2017, and a reliable touch back percentage to boot, Brees is poised to offer so much more. It’s easy to say that he has never kicked before at any competitive level of football in an effort to dismiss this idea, however we shouldn’t forget that he is probably a true film junkie and student of the game. I think the Panthers would be wise to gamble on his ability to transform his career.
Brees could bring two major upgrades to the Carolina Panthers: long term stability at the position of veteran leader and increased instability in their opponents ability to game plan for the extra point/two point conversion fake opportunities. The two point conversion shenanigans would probably sell about as many jerseys as they would win games, which is to say they would remind him of New Orleans by being a middling success.
His extended tenure in the NFL would almost guarantee that, even as a kicker, Brees would be making franchise quarterback money. With the pending retirements of Ryan Kalil and Thomas Davis, his veteran leadership alone would be worth the $20 million difference in his and Gano’s potential salaries.
Keeping the money commensurate with his current contract would only be one side of the move to Carolina that would attract Brees. The transition to kicker would be an opportunity to extend his career by years simply by playing at a lower impact position than quarterback. This could be his single best chance to win another Super Bowl ring.
Does this sound like a good idea to you, Panthers fans?
Should the Panthers sign Drew Brees to replace Graham Gano
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