Brees took to social media several hours after The New York Post reported he would leave NBC after spending a season as a professional and college football analyst for the network following his March 2021 retirement from the New Orleans Saints.
Citing unidentified sources, the New York Post reported that the decision to part ways “seemed mutual” and stemmed from Brees’ preference to work in the booth for games rather than in the studio. NBC is set to televise just one NFL game per week this fall and still has longtime game analyst Cris Collinsworth filling in on his familiar role Sunday nights.
Brees spent most of last season as an analyst on NBC Telecasts of Notre Dame and as a studio analyst on Sundays. When NBC had two NFL playoff games on a January weekend, Brees and Notre Dame announcing partner Mike Tirico were assigned to a matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Las Vegas Raiders. Brees garnered a notable amount of criticism from observers, some of whom thought he was bland present and fail to provide sufficient insight on important moments.
Tirico will join Collinsworth this season on “Sunday Night Football” after Al Michaels signed on to call games Thursday nights with Kirk Herbstreit, a longtime college football analyst for ESPN. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman moved to ESPN for “Monday Night Football” after many years as the top announcing team for Fox Sports. That left an analyst void at Fox that he has yet to fill – at least until Tom Brady retires and joins Kevin Burkhardt, who was promoted to replace Buck as the network’s No. 1 play-by-play man for the NFL.
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Greg Olsen, a former NFL tight end who impressed as a Fox analyst in his many seasons last season, appears to be well-positioned to temporarily replace Aikman. However, the New York Post reported later Sunday that, per sources, Brees is “in the mix” to take that spot. Even if Olsen or someone else gets that gig, Fox might need an analyst on its no. 2 team, giving Brees multiple potential opportunities there.
Of course, the more intriguing – if seemingly remote – scenario the Brees are coming back to play in the NFL. He dropped a further indication of interest with another tweet Sunday evening praising the Saints’ recent free agent additions wide receiver Jarvis Landry and safety Tyrann Mathieu.
“Man… signing [Landry] and [Mathieu] Makes me want to come back and play again !!! ” Brees exclaimed on Twitter. “Great additions … leaders and players!”
Among those taking note is that the tweet may have been Jameis Winston, who took over as the Saints’ primary quarterback last year before suffering a season-ending injury and is again penciled in as a starter in New Orleans. Winston may have to win a training camp battle with recently acquired Andy Dalton, but that could be a less daunting task than holding a franchise legend in Brees should the latter decide on the straps again.
Alternatively, the Brees could come back to play for a different team. Might the Carolina Panthers, a division rival to the Saints at a camp battle between underwhelming Sam Darnold and third-round draft pick Matt Corral?
It almost certainly shouldn’t come to that, given Brees’ age and struggles to stay healthy over his final two seasons. However, he posted solid numbers on the field and could be salivating over a Saints wide receiver corps with Landry alongside Michael Thomas and explosive first-round draft pick Chris Olave.
Or maybe Brees will examine the numerous options he has outlined Sunday and choose to get into professional pickleball. The important thing is, as a member of the media – for the time being, anyway – he has pledged to keep everyone fully aware of his plans.