Five New Orleans Saints were voted to the Pro Bowl, the National Football League announced Tuesday evening. Tackle Terron Armstead, quarterback Drew Brees, defensive end Cameron Jordan, wide receiver Michael Thomas and center Max Unger were selected to the NFC squad to play in the NFL’s All-Star game, which will be held Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. All but Unger were voted in as starters. With seven Saints named to the Pro Bowl last year, this marks the first time since the 2010-2011 campaigns that the Saints have had at least five players in back-to-back seasons named to participate in the contest. It also marks the 11th consecutive season that the club has at least one Pro Bowl selection.
Armstead was selected to his first Pro Bowl in his sixth NFL season. He started the first nine games of the season at left tackle for New Orleans, a period when the offensive line surrendered an NFL-low nine sacks, ranking first in the NFL in scoring (36.7 points per game), fifth in net yards per game (413.9 yards per game), eighth in rushing (126.8 yards per game) and seventh in passing (287.1 yards per game).
It is Brees’ 12th Pro Bowl selection in his 18-year NFL career and his club-record 11th as a member of the Saints, who he joined in 2006. He was the NFL’s leading vote-getter among fans. In 2018, he has started all 14 games and completed 337-of-450 passes (74.9 percent) for 3,666 yards with 31 touchdowns, only five interceptions and a 116.8 passer rating, ranked first in the league in both passing yardage and rating. He has also set a new career-high with four rushing touchdowns. Brees has also engineered a league-high six fourth quarter/overtime game-winning drives in 2018, including one in Monday night’s win at Carolina.
Brees was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week in Week Three for his performance at Atlanta, when he led the Saints to a 43-37 overtime win. Brees completed 39-of-49 passes for 396 yards with three touchdown passes with zero interceptions, to go with two rushing touchdowns, including the second in overtime to end the contest. He became the only player to have at least 350 passing yards, three touchdown passes, two rushing touchdowns and zero interceptions in a contest. In the game, Brees became the NFL’s all-time leader in completions.
Two weeks later vs. Washington, Brees captured conference offensive player of the week honors again as he set another record by becoming the league’s all-time passing yardage leader in a 43-19 win on Monday night football. In the contest, Brees completed 26-of-29 (career-high 89.7 percent completion percentage) passes for 363 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 153.2 passer rating. In the second quarter on a 62-yard touchdown pass to rookie wideout Tre’Quan Smith, Brees became the league’s all-time passing yardage leader.
Brees also shined in the first four contests of November, earning NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors, when he completed 84-of-113 passes for 1,145 yards with 15 touchdowns, only one interception and a 142.1 passer rating in leading the Saints to a 4-0 mark. He led the NFL during the four-game period in touchdown passes, passer rating and passing touchdown percentage (13.3 percent).
Brees, a former Purdue standout, who originally entered the NFL as a second round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers in 2001 (32nd overall), before signing with the Saints as an unrestricted free agent in 2006, has played in 263 career games (262 starts) and has completed 6,559-of-9,744 passes (67.3%) for 74,111 yards, 519 touchdowns and a 97.7 passer rating. He is the NFL’s all-time leader in completion percentage, completions and passing yardage, is ranked second in touchdowns passes and has the third-highest passer rating.
This is Jordan’s fourth Pro Bowl, the most selections in franchise history for a defensive end. Jordan has enjoyed a standout season, starting all 14 games and recording 45 tackles (34 solo), 12 sacks, five passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. The former University of California standout, who was the club’s first draft choice in 2011 (24th overall) is tied for eighth in the NFL in quarterback takedowns and in Weeks 12-14 had two sacks apiece in each contest.
In eight seasons, Jordan has appeared in all 126 games with 125 starts, including opening 111 consecutive games, the longest active consecutive games started streak by an NFL defensive lineman and has posted career totals of 500 tackles (309 solo), 71.5 sacks for losses of 488.5 yards, two interceptions, 45 passes defensed, 10 forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries. His takedown total is ranked fourth in club record books.
Thomas is the first Saints wide receiver to be selected to the Pro Bowl in consecutive seasons since Joe Horn (2001-02) and joins Horn as the only other Saints wideout to have multiple selections. A second round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft (47th overall) out of Ohio State, Thomas has followed up a standout first two seasons with a campaign where he leads the NFL in receiving with a franchise-record 109 receptions for 1,267 yards and eight touchdowns. Thomas’ 305 receptions are the most by an NFL player in his first three seasons with two games remaining in the 2018 campaign to spare.
Unger has been selected to the Pro Bowl for the third time in his career and his first since being acquired by New Orleans from the Seattle Seahawks in 2015. He has anchored the middle of an offensive line, starting every game for a unit that has surrendered only 16 sacks, tied for the lowest total in the NFL, while blocking for the league’s seventh ranked offense, eighth running the ball.