It worked out for the Saints but it was a gamble
Brees was damaged goods after he busted up his shoulder
Brees was available because he had injured his shoulder in the final game of the 2005 season. The injury required arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Later it was learned Brees had also a partially torn his rotator cuff.
Slated for free agency, Brees negotiated a new deal with the Chargers expecting to remain with his original team. But San Diego offered a cautious, five-year, $50 million deal that was heavily loaded with incentives. The contract made clear that San Diego had serious concerns about Brees and his shoulder. When the Chargers declined to improve their offer, Brees did two things:
He got a statement from renown surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, saying his shoulder was 100 percent and not any more likely to be reinjured than it ever was. The statement was released to the media.
And then Brees went hunting for a new team in free agency.
The somewhat less than trustworthy Nick Saban, who will never admit a mistake, claims that:
"We thought Drew Brees was an outstanding player, and that's who we made the first offer to," Saban said, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "Quite frankly, you know, he didn't pass the physical with our organization, so we had to go in another direction and there was nothing any of us could do about that."
Of course it also worked out for the Steelers - but it was not a sure thing Ben was going to be picked
Imagine what might have occurred in the past decade had the Steelers drafted offensive lineman Shawn Andrews in the first round in 2004 instead of Ben Roethlisberger.
That was their intention, until Dan Rooney stepped in.
Rooney, in his 2007 autobiography, wrote that as the countdown to the 11th pick of the '04 draft continued "our people seemed to have focused on Shawn Andrews, a big offensive tackle from Arkansas as our likely number-one pick.
"But when our turn came, I couldn't bear the thought of passing on another great quarterback prospect the way we had passed on Dan Marino in 1983, so I steered the conversation around to Roethlisberger. After some more talk, we came to a consensus and picked Roethlisberger."