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NFL Trade Rumors: Drew Brees, Jameis Winston, Buccaneers swap talks are unfounded, but swirling

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There are completely unconfirmed and largely unfounded rumors out there that the New Orleans Saints are willing to deal Drew Brees for the first overall pick and the ability to draft Jameis Winston. I'm not sure where the rumor is coming from -- there's no credible report, only some speculation now that the Saints picked up a second first-round pick from the Seattle Seahawks for Jimmy Graham.

Update: Check out our 2015 NFL Draft preview.

So first things first: this rumor is unfounded. There's no report out there that would substantiate it. There are no sources, anonymous or otherwise, talking about moving on from one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. And there are no reports whatsoever that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are willing to trade with anyone -- be it the Eagles, or the Saints. That didn't stop the Sun Times from talking about it, though, and I've seen a lot of chatter on Twitter. So here I am, addressing the rumors.

Why trading (for) Brees makes sense

As weird as this notion seems, it's not entirely out of the question. Let's start with the Saints' side of the ball. Brees is clearly declining at this point. He's still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but he's not as consistently productive as he used to be and he really struggled with the declining play of the offensive line in front of him last year. At 36 years old, that's only natural, and the Saints don't have the team around him to really win now, so moving to a long-term, younger quarterback makes sense. And as Andrew Siciliano notes, the Saints did meet with Winston at the combine.

Other reasons this makes sense for the Saints: trading Drew Brees would free up $19 million in cap space this year, and $20 million next year. The Saints have so little cap space that they've already traded Jimmy Graham. Removing Brees from the equation would immediately solve all of their problem in that department and allow them to use free agency to boost their roster elsewhere.

The Bucs' side of this trade isn't completely out of the question, either. Drew Brees would fix their short-term quarterback problem. No need to gamble on Marcus Mariota's on-field projection, or Jameis WInston's off-field issues: just take the veteran who you know can play. Use free agency and the draft to boost the rest of the roster, and the Bucs are looking pretty good, again.

Trading for Brees would also fit another Bucs imperative: to win now. Lovie Smith and Jason Licht can't afford another 2-14 season if they want to keep their jobs, and nothing wins as many games as a star quarterback. Lovie Smith has also been pretty obvious in his insistence that he doesn't need a franchise quarterback to win. See: all of his Bears quarterbacks. Finally, the Bucs do have the cap space to pay Brees.

Why trading (for) Brees doesn't make sense

Because you only get the opportunity to draft a star quarterback every so often. If the Bucs trade for Drew Brees, they're sacrificing the long-term future for the short-term. Jason Licht and Lovie Smith don't necessarily care about the long-term, given that if they don't fix the team quickly there's no long-term for them, but the Glazers certainly do -- and they'd have to sign off on any trade.

Brees' salary is also a problem. The Bucs can afford to pay him $39 million over the next two years, but that doesn't mean they'd be happy to do so. That salary is hefty and would severely limit their options elsewhere -- which is a problem, because they do want to pay Lavonte David and upgrade their roster, even if they're mostly targeting mid-tier free agents.

Finally, the Saints effectively giving up on this season seems a little weird, too. They've already traded away Jimmy Graham, they have very little talent at the skill positions on offense and their defense is a giant mess. That's not a recipe for success, but with Drew Brees you could at least salvage the season. Without him that becomes a lot more difficult -- and it's worth noting that Sean Payton's job may be on the line given the team's recent performances.

Likelihood

1/10. There are no credible reports substantiating a trade like this on either side, and both the Bucs and the Saints have significant reasons not to go ahead with a trade like this. It's not impossible, but there's no real reason to believe this is going to happen.