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Linsey: Drew Brees ends his first-ballot Hall of Fame career as the weak link on a loaded Saints roster

Jan 17, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) waves to the crowd as he walks off the field after a NFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Fox's Jay Glazer broke the news before Drew Brees’ divisional-round matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that it would be the veteran quarterback's final game in the Superdome. A win would lead to an NFC Championship game appearance next week in Lambeau, while a loss would signal the end of Brees’ 20-year career.

And the New Orleans Saints fell to Tampa Bay for the first time in three games this season, marking the final snaps from one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever take the field. 

Brees will retire ranked near the top of NFL record books in nearly every major volume-based passing statistic. He ranks first in career completions and passing yards while trailing only the man who knocked him out of the 2020 playoffs — Tom Brady — in passing touchdowns. 

Longevity clearly plays a role in numbers like those, but they can’t be chalked up to that alone. PFF began charting and grading NFL games in 2006, which just so happens to be Brees’ first season with the Saints. In his first 13 years in New Orleans ranging from 2006 to 2018, Brees rattled off grades north of 80.0 on over 1,000 offensive snaps each campaign. 

That streak came to a halt in 2019 only because Brees failed to reach the 1,000-snap threshold, but his 90.8 PFF grade two seasons ago still ranked second among 32 qualifiers at quarterback.

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