After Further Review: Report shows Saints facing inevitable real - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

After Further Review: Report shows Saints facing inevitable reality

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - With one ESPN report, the Saints essentially told us all that the inevitable is here. In an offseason full of cost-cutting, Mickey Loomis and company are not done with their difficult decisions.

 Adam Schefter reported the Saints are shopping Lance Moore and Pierre Thomas and are open to trading Darren Sproles as well.

 It's not completely surprising. All three have either hit their thirties or are very close (Thomas turns 30 this year), all have relatively high cap numbers thus all are vulnerable to the salary cap ax.

The fact that they are on the block could very well be a warning shot to all three that tough decisions with them may be on the horizon.  By exploring the trade route, the Saints could possibly get something in return and give them some much needed cap space, especially if the return pieces are draft picks.

 But it's clear their main objective is money. Even with the new inflated salary cap for 2014, the Saints still have work to do to give them enough money to handle other offseason priorities like Jimmy Graham, a draft class and other free agents both on their roster and around the league.  The subtractions of Thomas, Moore and Sproles would free up $2.9 million, $2.5 million and $3.5 million respectively.

The Saints dropped a similar hammer with Will Smith, Jabari Greer, Roman Harper and Jonathan Vilma. All four of those players were household names and fan favorites, but all had battled nagging injuries and were a part of a defense that, short of last year, had been wildly inconsistent under Sean Payton.  All in all, those were easy calls.

These three are different. All three play key roles in what's become the NFL's most consistent, explosive offense since Payton arrived. All can still be productive and none have a guaranteed replacement.

Thomas is the most trusted and most complete back on the team and, to me, is still in the prime of his career. Sproles has declined in the ground and return game but is still dynamic in the passing game and is one Brees' favorite targets. Moore's snaps took a hit this year but he's been incredibly steady during his tenure.

I could make a case for all three to remain and for the Saints to look elsewhere to find funds. Thomas in particular is a guy I would hesitate to part ways with. But I could certainly understand why management could think their time in black and gold may be nearing the end.  

We'll see how it shakes out. It's very possible that no deal can be made and one or more of these players remain with the Saints.

But it also signals that the team's salary cap ax is not done chopping and more fan favorites could be in its path before it's finished.

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