NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Credit the Saints for this much: They're well aware of their current circumstances. There's no sense of denial from an organization that's been battling the disease of 7-9 for three straight seasons. A team can only be mediocre for so long, and that strong sense of self-awareness has lit a fire under the organization.
How do we know?
Day one of the NFL league year; that's how. The Saints didn't just sprint out of the gate. They flew.
Flushed with significant cash for the first time in years, Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis went shopping. But unlike in years past where their aggressive ways led to impulsive decisions, this year's approach had a strong yet measured feel to it.
They resisted the temptation of a bidding war with Cleveland for Kevin Zeitler. Now is not the time to set NFL contract records on other teams' free agents. They've been there and done that. Instead, they were smart and moved down to the next player on their list, Larry Warford. Details on Warford's deal have not been reported, but they won't top Zeitler's $12 million season. Warford will start at right guard, the most important position on the Saints offense other than quarterback.
They also raided the roster of Carolina to grab middle linebacker A.J. Klein and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. Klein's reported contact essentially amounted to three years/$15 million. That's reasonable for the early favorite to start at middle linebacker. Ginn can provide the deep threat that could be vacated if/when the Brandin Cooks situation comes to fruition. His return ability will give the Saints a dimension they haven't had since Darren Sproles left town.
Those three moves alone made Thursday a total success.
Then came Nick Fairley.
Fairley was easily the Saints biggest free agent. Bringing him back was a priority, but only at a reasonable price. At four years worth a reported $30 million, Loomis accomplished both.
All in all, the Saints had a good day and are approaching the new league year like a team that KNOWS they need to have many more.