I’ll say this about the New Orleans Saints. They aren’t just going gently into that good night. A year after falling apart and squandering game after game, and missing the playoffs in a division where no team went 8-8, the Saints needed a change. Bad defense. Offense that struggled in spots, with Drew Brees seemingly coming up with some bad plays at key moments. Add in that the team faced the worst cap situation heading into the start of the new league year, and moves needed to be made.
It started with the release of Pierre Thomas. Then, Jimmy Grahamgot traded in a blockbuster move. That cleared significant cap space while returning a first round pick, along with center Max Unger. It was clear that the Saints viewed the interior offensive line as an issue. Rumors have surrounded both guards, and today, Ben Grubbs got traded for a draft pick, to the Chiefs.
If Chip Kelly wasn’t busy keeping the nation’s attention, the Saints’ moves would be a bigger story. Here’s a report that the team is shopping Kenny Stills. Scratch that, they are shopping everyone but Drew Brees and last year’s first round pick, Brandin Cooks. Stills is an interesting one, considering his cheap cost. Perhaps the team is looking to see if they can get a big haul for a young wide receiver, that can be shifted to defense. Trading away cheap assets would seem an odd move for a team that is in salary dump mode, though.
Brees’ cap number is pretty astronomical in 2015, over $25 million. That’s part of the problem, but the team appears to be making as many moves around him rather than enter the scary waters of NFL QB Castaway Bay. Teams bend over backwards on these big contracts because they are scared of the alternative.
Interestingly, Phil Simms was asked whether he would you consider trading Drew Brees on Mad Dog Sports today.
"I would say I probably would. We know it’s not going to happen, or most likely not going to happen. But sooner or later, they found out they were so top-heavy, even though they have great production from a group of guys, it’s not going to win you enough games to make you a player in the system right now. And Sean Payton’s system is great, and I’m sure he’s one of these coaches that think he can take whatever quarterback it is, and make them play better and put up numbers, and quite honestly, he probably can."
Of course, Simms then later added that, “would be a desperate move by the Saints.”
For what it’s worth, I asked our resident Saints fan, Michael Shamburger, who said that “[t]he Saints are going to alienate the fan base if they trade Brees. He’s become a part of NOLA and after that Super Bowl he’s like the Saints’ Brady.”
The Saints have sure been busy, and if these rumors are true, more could be coming. They did manage to sign Brandon Browner, inflicting another secondary loss on the New England Patriots, so the team has made one big move on defense to get back to the top of the division. We’ll see if they can do that with Drew Brees, and his large cap hit impacting roster decisions.