Drew Brees returning for 2020: How quarterbacks have historically performed in their 20th season
Brees will join Tom Brady as the second QB to play 20-plus seasons with two or fewer franchises
Saints quarterback Drew Brees announced earlier in the week he will return for a 20th season in the NFL, setting him up to accomplish a feat only five previous quarterbacks in league history have achieved. Brees will become the sixth quarterback to play 20-plus seasons and just the second quarterback to play 20-plus seasons with two or fewer franchises.
Tom Brady is the first quarterback to play 20-plus seasons with one team, all with the New England Patriots. Brees played his first five seasons with the San Diego Chargers before signing with the New Orleans Saints as a free agent in 2006. While Brees is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason, he's said he'd only play for the Saints if he returned, so don't expect him to call anywhere else home in 2020.
The NFL's all-time leader in passing yards (77,416) and touchdowns (547), Brees has thrown for 5,000 passing yards or more in a season a record five times (no other quarterback has accomplished the feat more than once). He's led the league in passing yards seven times (most in league history) and passing touchdowns four times. Brees has been selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times and he led the Saints to a win in Super Bowl XLIV, winning game MVP honors. Brees is also one of eight quarterbacks to threw seven touchdowns in a game.
How Brees fares in his 20th season will be a storyline to watch in 2020. Here's how the five other quarterbacks that played 20-plus seasons fared in year 20:
Blanda played 26 seasons in the NFL, but was primarily a kicker when he played his 20th season at 42 years old. Blanda was the third-string quarterback behind Daryle Lamonica and Ken Stabler in 1972, completing 5 of 15 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Blanda did hit all 44 of his extra point attempts and converted 17 of 26 field goals (65.4%) as the Raiders went 10-3-1 and won the AFC West, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers on the "Immaculate Reception."
A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Blanda threw for 26,920 yards, 236 touchdowns and 277 interceptions in 26 seasons. He won three AFL championships with the Oilers, making four Pro Bowls and leading the league in touchdowns in 1961. He also led the AFL in interceptions in for consecutive seasons.
Testaverde played in the NFL for 21 years, but he also was a backup quarterback in year 20. Testaverde played the 2006 season with the Patriots as the No. 3 quarterback behind Tom Brady and Matt Cassel, completing just two passes for 29 yards and throwing for a touchdown. This was the only year in the NFL Testaverde didn't start a game.
Testaverde threw for 46,233 yards, 275 touchdowns and 267 interceptions in his career, making two Pro Bowls and compiling a 90-123-1 record. He led the NFL in interceptions four times and played until he was 44. In Testaverde's final season, he threw for 952 yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions in six starts, posting a 2-4 record.
Another player who was a backup by the time he hit his 20th season, Morrall won his lone start for the Dolphins in 1975, his final year in the NFL. The 41-year old Morrall went 26 of 43 for 273 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions as the No. 3 quarterback behind Bob Griese and Don Strock.
Morrall played 21 seasons in the NFL, throwing for 20,809 yards for 161 yards and 148 interceptions. Morrall made the Pro Bowl twice and was selected as the 1968 NFL MVP when he led the league with 26 touchdown passes. A three-time Super Bowl champion (all as a backup quarterback), Morrall went 9-0 as the Dolphins starter in 1972 and led the league in passer rating while winning PFWA Comeback Player of the Year.
Favre's 20th season was his last in the NFL, a year that was highly forgettable for one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. One year after having the best season of his career, Favre went 5-8 in 13 starts for the Vikings, throwing for 2,509 yards with 11 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. Not only did Favre post his first losing season since 2005, his consecutive starts streak of 298 ended after suffering a shoulder injury that December. Favre finally retired after the year.
Favre left the game as the all-time passing leader in yards (71,838) and passing touchdowns (508). His 186 wins also represented an NFL record before being surpassed by Tom Brady. Favre is the only player in league history to win three consecutive MVP awards and was a three-time first-team All-Pro. He led the NFL in passing yards twice and passing touchdowns four times, earning 11 Pro Bowl selections.
New England Patriots (2000-)
Brady played his 20th season in 2019 at age 42, but didn't deliver the All-Pro numbers he's accustomed to having. Brady threw for 4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions, but his passer rating (88.0) was in the 80s for the first time since 2013 and his yards per game (253.6) was his lowest since 2010 (243.8). The Patriots also went 12-4 and won the AFC East, even though they failed to reach the AFC Championship game for the first time since 2010.
The winningest quarterback in NFL history (219 victories), Brady is the first NFL player to win six Super Bowl titles. A career 30-11 record in the postseason, Brady has led the Patriots to the AFC Championship Game 13 times and the Super Bowl nine times. His 14 Pro Bowl appearances are tied for most in NFL history and his 13 division titles are the most for a quarterback in league history. Brady has won three NFL MVP awards and four Super Bowl MVP awards. He's second all-time in pass yards (74,571) and touchdown passes (541).
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