FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 15th, 2021

PETER KING DISCUSSES DREW BREES’ CAREER AND LEGACY & PREVIEWS TODAY’S NFL FREE AGENCY OPENING IN THIS WEEK’S “FMIA” COLUMN

“It’s entirely possible that no player has meant as much to a city and a state as Brees meant to New Orleans and Louisiana.” – King on Drew Brees

“He came to us when we were at the lowest of the lows, and he helped bring us to the highest of the highs.” – Saints GM Mickey Loomis to King on Signing Brees

Brees Joins NBC Sports as Studio Analyst for Football Night in America and Game Analyst for Notre Dame Football

“The market is worse than you think…It’s no exaggeration to think you’ll see one-third of the early action as you did last year.” – King on this year’s free agency market due to the decreased salary cap

STAMFORD, Conn. – March 15, 2021 – Peter King discusses the career and legacy of Drew Brees, who announced his retirement after 20 years in the NFL yesterday and has since joined NBC Sports as an analyst, in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also previews today’s opening of 2021 free agency, speaks with Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and provides an update on player vaccinations and league protocols ahead of the 2021 season.

Across NBC Sports, Peacock’s weekday block of NFL programming from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET, which provides extensive NFL coverage, includes PFT Live featuring Mike Florio and Chris Simms live at 7 a.m. ET, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another, with Michael Holley and Michael Smith, at 3 p.m. ET, and PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday-Friday. ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, and the NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show and Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast discuss offseason storylines.

The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:

DREW BREES

King on Drew Brees’ retirement: “Brees leaves after an extraordinary career as a football player and humanitarian. If you doubt the humanitarian part, you’re entitled to your opinion, but you’d be wrong.”

King: “It’s entirely possible that no player has meant as much to a city and a state as Brees meant to New Orleans and Louisiana, arriving when the region was irretrievably wrecked by Hurricane Katrina, when a third of the populace had moved away because of the ruination of the area.”

Saints GM Mickey Loomis to King on signing Brees: “Think of what we were up against. Coming off Katrina. Coming off a 3-13 season. New coach. Drew couldn’t have named one player on our roster, I bet…Think how fortunate we were. Of the 10 coaching jobs open that year, we had to be last. We got the best coach in Sean (Payton), and we got the best player in Drew. He came to us when we were at the lowest of the lows, and he helped bring us to the highest of the highs. I can’t think of a player in my lifetime who meant as much to a team and a city as Drew meant to the Saints and New Orleans.”

King on Brees and head coach Sean Payton: “In NFL history, it’s hard to imagine a better coach-quarterback combination than Brees and Payton. Payton had the imagination to know what part of a defense was vulnerable, and how to pick on it. Brees had the accuracy to do the picking.”

King on Brees: “Good process on the field led to an amazing career. Good process off the field led to contributing to New Orleans coming out of its Katrina funk. Brees will be missed by New Orleans the city and New Orleans the football team. But he’ll be forever a beacon for what’s good about football, and what’s good about what football players can do for a city.”

King on the Saints entering 2021: “The Saints, assuming they can sign Jameis Winston (likely), will bring Winston and Taysom Hill to a training-camp competition for the starting job, and may the best quarterback win. Barring a surprise, that’s how New Orleans will enter the season – with Winston or Hill the starting quarterback.”

This morning on the TODAY show, Brees announced that he has joined NBC Sports as a studio analyst for Football Night in America and game analyst for Notre Dame Football. Click here for more information.

2021 FREE AGENCY

King: “Starting at noon ET today, you’ll begin to hear the drumbeat of major moves of the 52-hour (aptly named) legal tampering period in NFL free agency. Last year, 27 players agreed on deals to change teams in free-agency agreements announced on the first day of the period…This year? In many markets, crickets.”

An agent to King on this year’s free agency: “The sticker shock this year won’t be big deals that shock the public. It’ll be players coming to terms with making 40 cents on the dollar compared to what they thought they’d make before the cap went down so much.”

King: “The market is worse than you think…Overall, teams last year entered the league year with about $1.3 billion to spend on free agents and rookies; this year the number is about $420 million. So it’s no exaggeration to think you’ll see one-third of the early action as you did last year.”

King: “Money spent on the top end of free agency is usually wasteful. ‘Usually’ is being charitable…It gives you an idea of how bad an idea it is to jump into the market and overpay stars who are not stars.”

King on players who may get big contracts early in free agency: “Those who I think get good money this week: Giants DT Dalvin Tomlinson, Bucs edge-rusher Shaq Barrett, Lions wideout Kenny Golladay, Steelers wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster, Niners left tackle Trent Williams, Pats guard Joe Thuney, Titans TE Jonnu Smith.”

King on free agent pass rushers: “There’s never been so many tempting rushers in a free-agency class…A month from now, two or three of those players will be unsigned and have massive chips on their shoulder, almost certain to be smart one-year buys while they re-establish a market for 2022.”

King: “So you still think teams will dig into the couch cushions to find money to buy people this year? … Maybe I’ll be wrong, but I think there’s going to be a lot of disappointed players by midnight.”

NFL VACCINATIONS & PROTOCOLS

King on discussions on mandatory vaccinations: “The league and union are discussing whether to try to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for players before the season begins, but I’m dubious that players would agree to such a forced ordinance in order to be eligible to play in 2021. Talking to some in the know in recent days, a protocol of mandatory vaccinations is not likely. The big reason is it’s naïve to think the full body of players will be open to being vaccinated, and it’s a fight the league probably won’t want to pick with players.”

King on the timetable for a vaccination decision: “‘Time is on our side,’ one league voice said. He’s right. This is not a call that has to be made now. And maybe two months from now we’ll be in a different place in our country, and there will be more trust as the nation gets closer to normal. We’ll see.”

King on 2021 COVID-19 protocols: “If there is no universal player vaccine, expect another season of some form of COVID protocols…As for training camp and the season, it’s likely the league and union will wait to see the level of COVID in the country, and the percentage of players who have been vaccinated, before deciding on precise protocols.”

King on NFL meetings: “The league meetings will be virtual for the second straight year, held March 30 and 31 via videoconference from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. each day.”

NEWS & NOTES

King on the Buccaneers tagging WR Chris Godwin: “I think the most curious franchise-tag decision was made by Tampa Bay, tagging wide receiver Chris Godwin despite the embarrassment of riches at wide receiver for the Bucs, and not tagging pass-rusher Shaq Barrett. That allowed Barrett to enter unrestricted free agency at age 28, at the top of an important positional market…I expect they’ll still try to re-sign Barrett, but only at a lower number.”

King on the Buccaneers restructuring Tom Brady’s contract: “As he’s told the Bucs, he doesn’t care so much about the money as he does in keeping the band together for another run (or two) at a Super Bowl…However it unfolds, the ability to push Brady’s cap burden as far as possible is best for the Bucs trying to capitalize on this championship window.”

King on NFL teams’ vaccination efforts: “I think the vaccination efforts of many teams around the NFL deserve credit, and great for them. The Cardinals, in particular, have been terrific. Today, the 500,000th vaccination at the Cards’ State Farm Stadium is scheduled to be put into a citizen’s arm.”

King on Casey Hayward: “I think the free-agent market at cornerback just got its best player late Saturday, with the Chargers whacking Casey Hayward…Along with Richard Sherman (33 this season), these are two best wise owls in the secondary who will be available.”

Read the full FMIA column here and catch the weekly Peter King Podcast here.

The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:

    • PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Chris Simms streams live on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another at 3 p.m. ET, PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. At 6 p.m. ET, Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams Tuesday-Friday.
    • ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
    • The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show continue the NFL discussion.

 

A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.

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