Yes, the Kansas City Chiefs trading for "frustrated" New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees sounds about as outlandish a concept as they come. But how many people would have believed Peyton Manning would be with the Denver Broncos this time last year?
After Brees' record-setting performance last season, it's been all downhill for the Saints. Their head coach, interim head coach and general manager all start the season on suspension. Defensive stalwarts Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith will likewise spend some time on mandatory leave of absence. All-Pro guard Carl Nicks walked in free agency, as did wide receiver Robert Meachem.
And let's not forget the latest debacle surrounding Brees' contract. Brees wanted a franchise tag exemption as one of the plaintiffs who sued the NFL last summer, but that didn't happen. And Brees' comments about his contract negotiations, or lack thereof, don't appear to have done any good.
So, just how bitter could this thing become?
Brees became more than a starting quarterback in New Orleans; he became an icon who the people of New Orleans rallied around as they recovered from one of the greatest natural disasters in U.S. history. This drawn-out contract situation seems to be poor gratitude for someone who meant this much to a city and committed so much of himself to the community.
This is where the Kansas City Chiefs could come in.
The Chiefs have playmakers at nearly every position except quarterback. Scott Pioli tried to pursue Peyton Manning this offseason. If Pioli was willing to spend serious money on a 36-year-old quarterback with serious injury concerns, what would he do for a younger Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback in much better shape?
Kansas City could pitch an offer to New Orleans, compensating the Saints with a pair of first-round picks and Matt Cassel in exchange for Brees. This trade mirrors the Denver Broncos/Chicago Bears trade for Jay Cutler and Kyle Orton. Kansas City might need to throw in a second-round pick as well to sweeten the deal, but it'd still be a bargain for Brees.
Adding Brees to the lineup would make the Chiefs a certain Super Bowl contender this year. With a revived run game, talented offensive line and numerous receiving threats, Kansas City would easily top their "Greatest Show on Turf" days with Trent Green, Priest Holmes and Tony Gonzalez.
So, what do the Saints get out of this exchange? Tom Benson could expect mounds of hate mail and outrage when he announces the departure of arguably the biggest fan favorite in Saints history. The start of the season would feature the return of brown paper bag faces in the stands and a resurgence in the use of the "Ain'ts" moniker.
However, Cassel isn't without his merits under center. He would help keep the Saints respectable, if not Super Bowl-worthy. Cassel doesn't hurt the pocketbook nearly as much either; the Chiefs front-loaded Cassel's contract, which makes him a much cheaper alternative.
But this season isn't about the Super Bowl; it's about saving face and rebuilding. Without their A-list coaching staff and support, New Orleans should just consider the 2012 season a wash and look forward to the next few years.
In those years, they can enjoy multiple first-round picks on cheap rookie contracts and a capable veteran to hold down the fort while they develop a Matt Barkley or Landry Jones next year. In 2014 or 2015, the Saints could return to prominence with the specter of Bountygate firmly behind them.
And as much as it might seem otherwise, no player is bigger than their team. In the last few months, sports fans have watched Albert Pujols leave St. Louis to join the Angels in Los Angeles and Manning leave Indianapolis for a Rocky Mountain High.
St. Louis built a statue of Pujols, but that didn't stop him from heading west. The city didn't burn to the ground later that night either. The city of New Orleans will be just fine without Brees.
But if the Chiefs can go all in and get the Saints to call on a trade for Brees, Kansas City might just have their own dose of pandemonium next February.
It might just be a pipe dream, but stranger things have happened.
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