New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said Wednesday that he expects to return to the Saints, which is likely to close the door on if and when the team acquires quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Both Bridgewater and Bradford are now free agents.
Brees confirmed through a media appearance at the ShoWare Center in Kennewick, Wash., that he plans to return to New Orleans in an interview with radio host Scott O'Neil of the KIRO-7 morning show.
"Yeah, I feel good about the guys that we have in place," Brees said. "I think the guys that we have in place for our offseason program and training camp — I know some guys that are retiring or, at least, that are thinking about it, that are leaving. But you've got to keep playing. It's just a matter of how I feel, and when the opportunity presents itself, I just have to decide when I'm not playing on a team, which is why it's important that I make sure I take the time and make sure I really get some rest."
Brees later clarified that "indefinitely" is not the timeframe for his decision, and that he expects to make a final decision at some point this offseason.
Still, Brees' final decision on where to play next season will likely mean that the Saints are out of the running for Bridgewater, or even Bradford, who now is 32 years old. Should Brees return, the Saints could flip Bradford into a running back role and preserve a roster spot for him. At least that's what they did last season when a back injury ended Cousins' season early and opened the door for Bridgewater.
The Saints now have a handful of active options on their roster for the depth-chart quarterback position. They have Ryan Griffin, who also spent the 2015 season on the injured reserve/non-football injury list, after trading for the former Purdue quarterback off the Broncos' practice squad at the end of the year.
On the free-agent market, New Orleans has been very active and expressed excitement when three of their own players were released – Joe Webb, Michael Thomas and Kenny Vaccaro. Of the players, Carroll has arguably been the most prominent. He was signed by the Saints as a free agent before the 2012 season, and though he never broke through on an NFL roster, he played his way into the Saints' hearts as a backup to Brees. He would serve as Brees' security blanket in the Superdome and potentially be a mentor to the rookie and second-year passer, the eventual title quarterback of the Saints.
Since Vaccaro's release, the Saints have been active on the free-agent market. They are said to be in on Los Angeles Rams safety John Johnson. With Thomas' release, New Orleans is pursuing a target for his position, either former Colts WR Reggie Wayne or new Titans receiver Eric Decker.
The team's preferred target for defensive end Cameron Jordan is reportedly Denver's DeMarcus Ware, who is under contract.
Brees' decision to not retire was noted by Patriots fans on Monday and Tuesday. Both teams' fans took to Twitter to question whether he would come out of retirement, knowing that he has no plans to retire.