Barring something unforeseen, Drew Brees will retire soon and step into his post-career job at NBC. That will leave the New Orleans Saints in search of a quarterback. They also have a ton of work to do just to get to get close to the salary cap, so visions of Deshaun Watson can be eliminated right away.
The Saints signed Taysom Hill to a contract that says they want to give him a shot to succeed Brees. The fact he started over Jameis Winston this year when Brees was injured was further evidence. Winston is an option to be re-signed, as the Saints were complementary of his work behind the scenes this year.
The Saints could also be looking at quarterbacks in the draft, even if it’s ultimately only a mid or late-round pick.
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger has been at the Senior Bowl this week, and analysts were complementary of his work in practice. With 43 career starts, he stands as one of the most experienced quarterback prospects in the 2021 class.
During NFL Network’s Senior Bowl coverage (h/t to 247 Sports), Ehlinger spoke about a quarterback he looked up to.
“Growing up having Drew Brees as a model, as a man and a player, is one of the best players and people you can look up to when you’re at a young age watching a football player,” Ehlinger said. “I never really had a professional team but I was always into the players. So when I knew that Drew Brees went to the same high school that I was going to go to, being able to watch him every Sunday play for the Saints, just the way he carries himself as a person and a player, it was the perfect role model to look up to.”
Ehlinger and Brees share a high school alma mater, Westlake High School in Austin, Texas.
Could The Saints Tab Ehlinger As Brees’ Successor?
In some respect, Ehlinger’s size (6-foot-1-1/2, 222 pounds) and running ability makes him easy to compare to Hill. The difference is Ehlinger can actually throw the ball (62.5 percent career completion rate at Texas). Over his final three seasons, he had 83 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions.
The consensus on Ehlinger is he’ll be a Day 3 pick in April. That should put him in the Saints’ wheelhouse, as they prioritize other areas. FanDuel’s list of possible draft replacements for Brees, which includes Ehlinger, confirms the idea.
Hill isn’t going anywhere next season, in whatever fashion he’ll be used. As the Saints fill out their quarterback depth chart, drafting Ehlinger after re-singing Winston is a viable path.