Few quarterbacks have made the impact on the NFL record books than Drew Brees, a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in five years when he's eligible to be enshrined in Canton. What Brees was able to accomplish in his 15 seasons with the New Orleans Saints is the stuff of legend, culminating a spectacular 20-year career with the New Orleans and San Diego Chargers.
Brees leaves the NFL as the first 80,000-yard passer in league history, once holding the all-time passing touchdown record (passing Peyton Manning in 2019 with 540 before Tom Brady eventually surpassed him), and just percentage points behind Deshaun Watson for the highest completion percentage in NFL history.
There are so many NFL records Brees owns. Here's a look at three of the most impressive:
Passing yards: 80,358
Brees was the first quarterback to throw for 80,000 yards in NFL history. Tom Brady is second at 79,204 (and likely will pass Brees this coming season) while Peyton Manning ranks third at 71,940.
Brees had 12-consecutive seasons of 4,000-plus passing yards -- the longest streak in NFL history -- and missed a 13th season by eight yards. His 12 seasons of 4,000 passing yards are tied with Brady and Rivers for the second most in NFL history (trailing only Manning, 14). Of the top 10 passing-yardage seasons in league history, Brees has five of them and holds four of the top six spots.
There have been 12 5,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history -- and Brees has five of them. Brees is the only player with multiple 5,000-yard passing seasons, making the accomplishment all the more impressive.
Brees was the first player in NFL history with 7,000 completions, ahead of Brady (6,778) and Brett Favre (6,300). He owns the top three single-season completions marks -- setting the NFL record in 2016 with 471. Brees had 468 in 2011 and 456 in 2014, which are the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively.
Brees holds the NFL record for consecutive games with 20-plus completions with 61 and has 63 games with at least 30 completions -- also an NFL record. Brees needed just 240 games to reach 6,000-career completions, 19 fewer than Manning.
Brees had 6,017 completions in his career with the Saints -- the most for a player in a 15-year period.
Consecutive games with TD pass: 54
Brees holds one of the hardest NFL records to break, tossing a touchdown pass in 54-consecutive games. The record streak began on Oct. 18, 2009 and ended on Nov. 25, 2012. Brees passed Johnny Unitas (47) for the all-time record on Oct. 7, 2012 against the Chargers (his former team).
Brees is the only player in NFL history to toss a touchdown pass in 45 consecutive games -- twice. The second streak started on Dec. 9, 2012 and ended on Nov. 15, 2015. He's the only player to throw a touchdown pass in 60-consecutive games (including postseason).
The significance of No. 7
Brees has quite a few NFL records that involve the number seven.
- Tied for most passing touchdowns in a game
- Games with five touchdown passes to zero interceptions
- Number of times Brees has led the NFL in passing yards
571 passing touchdowns
Brees is second in NFL history in touchdown passes (trailing Brady, 581), but holds or is tied for several impressive streaks on the passing-touchdown list.
- Only player in NFL history with consecutive 40-plus touchdown seasons (2011, 2012)
- Tied with Favre and Manning for consecutive seasons with 35-plus touchdown seasons (3)
- Consecutive seasons with 30-plus touchdown passes (9)
- 30-plus pass-touchdown seasons (10)
- Most 5-plus pass-touchdown games (11)
- Most 4-plus pass-touchdown games (37)
Brees' two seasons of 40 passing touchdowns are tied with Manning, Brady, and Dan Marino for second all time. Aaron Rodgers set the NFL record with his third 40 pass-touchdown season in 2020. Brees has 175 games with multiple touchdown passes, second-most in NFL history behind Brady (186).
Career completion percentage: 67.7%
Brees is second all time in career completion percentage, just percentage points behind Watson (67.8). Of players that played more than four NFL seasons, Brees ranks first in league history in career completion percentage.
Brees has four of the top five single-season completion percentage marks in NFL history:
- Drew Brees (2018) -- 74.4%
- Drew Brees (2019) -- 74.3%
- Drew Brees (2017) -- 72.0%
- Sam Bradford (2016) -- 71.6%
- Drew Brees (2011) -- 71.2%
Brees is the only player in NFL history with consecutive seasons completing 70% of his passes -- and he accomplished that feat the final five seasons of his career. His eight-consecutive seasons of completing at least 65% of his passes is also an NFL record, surpassing Manning's mark of seven this year.
Brees is arguably the most efficient passer in NFL history, having the numbers and Super Bowl championship to show for his consistent success during his Hall of Fame career. No quarterback may ever match the efficiency of Brees, who set the tone for the passing game the NFL is today.