The New Orleans Saints’ March Madness

by Jordan McGuire on March 16, 2015

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So far, March Madness has lived up to its name in both college basketball and in the NFL. Thankfully, the national media has been paying more attention to the Eagles, because I know Saints fans are shaking their heads and voicing concern. Shocked is a word that loosely describes the feelings of the Who Dat Nation at the moment. I will lists all the current transactions around the Saints organization and can hopefully shed some light on the situation at hand.

First, let’s discuss the Jimmy Graham situation. Was that one ever out of left field. Nobody saw that one coming, including Jimmy Graham. The trade broke the internet. The beloved Saints hybrid tight end/wide receiver was just coming off the first year of his first huge pro contract. He’s worth the money. He’s an incredible athlete and plays the most pivotal and now revelatory position in pro football. He has helped revolutionize the tight end position in the NFL.

With a 6’6 frame and freakish athleticism and great hands, Jimmy Graham had become one of the most deadly red zone options in the game. The new wave of rebounding bruisers from college hardwood has found its niche in the NFL tight end circuit. It started with Tony Gonzales and Antonio Gates and has now evolved into guys like Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas, who just signed with the hell hole they call Jacksonville.

Back to the Jimmy deal. I’m fine with shipping out a huge contract for a much needed two-time Pro Bowl center in Max Unger, but why did we have to deal with the Seahawks!? As if I didn’t hate the Richard Sherman-led Seahawks enough. Now this just gives us all one more reason to root against the reigning Super Bowl choke artists. With the Jimmy Graham deal, Mikey Loomis also found a way to add a pick late in the first round. The Saints can do a lot with the 31st pick in the NFL draft as they can move up or down to grab a needed position. Loomis and Sean Payton have been preaching that their goal is to shore up the defense this offseason. The deal with Jimmy Graham helped the offensive line so you would think that Saints will use their newly acquired draft picks on defensive positions. With Ben Watson now leading the way at tight end, this opens up a tight end spot that can be picked up in the upcoming draft. The Saints should look to pick the New Orleans native Rico Gathers who is currently the rebounding machine at Baylor University. Are you asking yourself this question: “a rebounding machine?” Yes, Rico Gathers is the undersized but Herculean-built power forward for the Baylor Bears basketball team. You heard it here first! Rico Gathers will be the next Saints secret weapon at the tight end position.

If shoring up the defense was the front office’s plans initially, then why send Curtis Lofton packing? Lofton was by far, without question, the Saints leader on the defensive side of the ball. Coming off his second career hundred tackle season, the steady linebacker led the Saints in tackling for the third consecutive season. The hole that the Saints must climb out of financially is the lone reason why Lofton must find a home elsewhere. Instead of trading away Lofton to receive some pieces in return, the Saints cut Lofton, sending him into the ever-changing world of NFL Free Agency.

PT-webAlthough I don’t understand the Lofton move, I do completely understand the Pierre Thomas decision. Pierre Thomas was one of the Saints best acquisitions in franchise history. The underrated running back from Illinois University has been an impact player on the ground and through the air. Thomas is the all-time leader is receptions by a running back in Saints history and has been one of the most consistent players in the organization since Deuce McAllister. As much as I love Pierre Thomas, this was the right move for the Saints. Saints signed a very deserving Mark Ingram for four more years and picked up Jarius Byrd’s former teammate and friend CJ Spiller. This move will be up in the air until the speedy Spiller plays and remains healthy throughout the year. The Saints have always had a relatively deep backfield as Sean Payton has a style of playing multiple backs for various offensive situations. Spiller could be used as a pawn to move up or down in the draft, or in the rotational style in the backfield and can be an instant weapon in the special teams.

The final big move of the year is cutting ties with Kenny Stills and Ben Grubbs. There were rumors that Drew Brees was unhappy with both Stills and Grubbs’ work ethics so this is no surprise here. These moves are very under appreciated moves from Loomis. Stills was a fifth round draft pick and exceeded expectations tremendously. He fit the mold of a Lance Moore-type player. Stills is a small, shifty yet fearless receiver who could play from the slot all the way to the outside. The Oklahoma alum was also a deep threat on any given play. The Saints have always done a fine job of drafting underrated talent deep in the draft and this year should be no different. They will look to pick up some offensive firepower late again. Stills was sent to Miami for Dannell Ellerbe, a name that I had to Google upon reading, and also received a third round pick. Elbe will play linebacker for the Saints and this move will impact the goal of shoring up the defense for the future. The Grubbs move will immediately impact the Saints as they have a large hole to fill in the offensive line. This too is a good move for the Saints. Grubbs held a $9.1 million year in front of him and the organization decided that they needed to continue to free up cap space.

After an underwhelming 7-9 season the Saints are looking towards the future. Future Hall of Famer Drew Brees’ Super Bowl window is quickly closing and the Saints will look to protect him in his remaining years. Who knows how the job Mikey Loomis and Sean Payton have done will pan out but for now let’s support them and leave the brown bags at home. These guys have rarely failed throughout their incredible run thus far with the Saints. I have all the confidence in the world that these are the correct moves in order for this blossoming franchise to succeed. But, if the Saints fail to have a winning record, expect to see Loomis on the hot seat and expect some unruly fans to voice their opinions come Sunday in the Dome.

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