While the (7-2) New Orleans Saints will be seeking their 8th win in a row tomorrow at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as they host the visiting Washington Redskins; a large segment of analysts and observers that cover the NFL Draft as well as a sizable number of Saints fans, will also be focused on the game later today in a match-up of Big 12 teams between the #3-ranked Oklahoma Sooners and the Kansas Jayhawks.
Why THAT game, you ask?
Well for those of you that only concentrate on the Saints at this time of year, it's because that game will feature the starting QB for Oklahoma that some analysts are heavily comparing to Saints QB Drew Brees: a young man named Baker Mayfield.
Now first, let's explain WHY this should be of any interest to Saints fans who don't know who Mayfield even is.
It's become pretty apparent from his comments earlier this week, that Drew Brees doesn't plan on going anywhere after his current contract expires at the end of this season.
“I feel like we’ve got a great opportunity ahead of us and I don’t plan on leaving New Orleans ever,” Brees said during an appearance on XTRA 1360 AM in San Diego this past Tuesday.
“Hopefully, I know all of that stuff takes care of itself when it’s supposed to. I have not approached them about any contract. We just have a great understanding here. Listen, we’re going to go through this season and we’ll revisit it in the offseason. For right now, I’m in the moment.”
The likely scenario going forward is that Brees and the Saints will reach an agreement sometime in the next few months after the current season ends, on one final contract that will keep him in New Orleans for the remainder of his career and allow him to retire in a Saints uniform.
But Brees turns 39 in January, and it's pretty obvious that he's not going to play forever.
Meaning that the Saints have two options: find a new starting QB in Free Agency, or draft one.
The ONLY Free Agent QB that's even remotely considered to be a "franchise" QB in Free Agency next year is the man that the Saints will face tomorrow: Redskins QB Kirk Cousins, whose current contract expires at the end of this season.
But let's be realistic: the Saints WILL NOT win a 'bidding war' for Cousins' services. It would be the "long shot" of all long shots.
And since the next few years of Free Agency will practically have ZERO QB's besides Cousins that you'd consider to be a "franchise QB" as Brees was when he was a Free Agent back in 2006, then the most logical route to find one is the NFL Draft.
Since Mayfield is often compared to Brees in a variety of different ways, a sizable portion of Saints fans that follow college football and the NFL Draft closely, have now suddenly become Mayfield fans.
As a matter of fact, they're DROOLING all over themselves about him at the moment.
And of course the next question becomes: WHY are they comparing Mayfield to Brees?
They're similar in size (Brees is 6-feet even on his tippy toes, while Mayfield is 6 foot-1), have an outstanding comprehension and off-the-charts-knowledge of how to operate their offensive scheme, are known for their "pin-point" accuracy, are "cool under pressure", know how to utilize all of the 'weapons' available to them in each of their offenses, and perhaps most importantly: both are considered team leaders or "field generals" of their respective teams.
At the moment, Mayfield is considered THE #1 favorite to win this year's Heisman Trophy, according to Gridiron Now’s Mike Huguenin.
Unbelievably, Mayfield currently has thrown for for 3,559 yards, 31 TD's and five interceptions, but perhaps even more impressive is that he also has 231 rushing yards and 5 more rushing TD's in 10 games.
Mayfield is torching every defense that lines up against him. He’s the most-accurate passer in college football and a fiery leader who will inspire guys to rally around him just like Brees has. Mayfield plays the game with a high degree of difficulty and would be a stellar fit in Sean Payton’s fast-paced offense.
Sigler also says that for whatever it’s worth (probably very little), Mayfield’s high school alma mater is just 22 miles from Brees’ Texas hometown, and they both even won the Texas State High School Football Championship (15 years apart) at their respective schools.
Sigler adds that it’s very possible the two have played on the same ball-fields earlier in life and could share a stronger tutor-student relationship than the one that Brees didn’t seem to have with Garrett Grayson, who was a relative "outsider" from the Pacific Northwest.
In that article, Sigler even included two side-by-side scouting reports on the two players, one on Brees prior to the 2001 NFL Draft nearly 17 years ago, and a current one on Mayfield.
See if you can guess which QB is the one of the Saints for the past 11 seasons, and who is the kid in college.
(Clue: the first one was written in early 2001, and the 2nd one a few months ago).
And now, Mayfield's.
Now of course, there is a "catch" — which is that if the Saints are serious about preparing for the future of the franchise once Brees retires, then they obviously will need to do it soon.
And since we already know that the next few years of Free Agency will not have any QB that who would even come close to being a "franchise"-caliber QB other than Cousins (who we know likely won't end up a Saint), it certainly means that the Saints will have to take one in either next year's draft or definitely the one (the 2019 NFL Draft) after.
But if they want to draft the "next Drew Brees" and have him learn under the actual Drew Brees himself, then obviously they'd need to do it next April.
Unfortunately, there's also the chance that another team ahead of the Saints will want Mayfield, too.
Since it appears the Saints will be much further down in the Draft order selection next year (mid to lower 20's), the only way they'd be able to get Mayfield is to trade up for him — since Mayfield has been projected by some analysts to go as high as a Top 5 pick.
Of course all of that could change between today and April 26th; which is still a little over 5 months from now and also the day that Mayfield is expected to be selected by some NFL team, which could be New Orleans assuming they'd be willing to give up a #1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to get him.
As we know, these are topics (life after Drew Brees retires, trading up in the Draft and giving away valuable assets) that make the rest of Saints fans VERY uncomfortable, but as Sigler observes:
Drew Brees can’t play forever — so you should start getting "hip" to the college QB prospects that are available in next April's 2018 NFL Draft.
And for those of you who believe the Saints wouldn't 'pull the trigger' on a QB this early with Brees still likely to play anywhere from 2 to 4 more years?
Let us not forget that the Saints were set to take Texas Tech QB Pat Mahomes with their top pick this past April, before the Kansas City Chiefs traded up with Buffalo to jump ahead of New Orleans in the draft order, to take Mahomes for themselves.
Fortunately for the Saints, they instead took CB Marshon Lattimore of Ohio State; and the rest as they say, is history.
So nevertheless, taking a QB with their top pick next April is certainly "in play".
And if there's one that you should keep a very keen eye on as Saints fan?
Then the one that 'stands out' is the young man that many are calling the "next Drew Brees".
And how fitting would it be, if the "next Drew Brees" gets the opportunity to learn how to be the future Saints QB, from the man himself.....