After Further Review: Breaking down an eventful first week of Sa - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

After Further Review: Breaking down an eventful first week of Saints free agency

Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have hit the ground running in free agency. (Photo by Mark Lagrange) Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have hit the ground running in free agency. (Photo by Mark Lagrange)
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What do you get when you combine a head coach that’s sitting on three-consecutive 7-9 seasons and a 38-year-old quarterback going into the final year of his contract?

The 2017 Saints offseason.

With a flurry of free agent signings, the organization is sending a message: this is the year they get back on top because, frankly, it has to be.  

At no point during the previous decade has the pressure to get right been as high as it currently is right now. That’s a good thing. It’s even better that the Saints have taken that urgency to make shrewd, calculated signings not irrational, panic moves.

Most Impactful Signing

Larry Warford

One position, other than quarterback, on the Saints offense that cannot be compromised is guard. Jahri Evans stabilized the position last season when he returned. That job will go to Warford now. The Saints are banking on him to be ever bit as productive as Evans was last season. At 4 years/$34 million, the Saints were able to land him at a fair price.

Best Buy:

Alex Okafor

The Saints needed an edge pass rusher in the worst way. They’ll likely still take one in the draft but the addition of Okafor at least puts a quality player opposite Cam Jordan that has significant playing experience.  

At one-year for $2 million, Okafor took a ‘bet on myself’ contract and the Saints could reap the benefits. Okafor has a reported $1 million sack incentive built into his deal. He’s also reunited with his college teammate Kenny Vaccaro. Sometimes a fresh start with old friends and lucrative incentives can reinvigorate a player. All in all, Okafor has the chance to be this year’s Nick Fairley. Low risk, high reward.

Most Intriguing:

Ted Ginn, Jr.

Ginn has never played with a quarterback with the accuracy of Drew Brees. That should help with some of his drop issues. Still, in that regard, he will always be inconsistent. Where he can make his biggest impact is on special teams. If he can be as dynamic as he has been in the past, Ginn has the potential to be the difference in a lot of close games.

What’s Next:

At some point very soon, Malcolm Butler’s future will be determined. When it is, the compensation for the deal with be scrutinized. The CBA says the Saints would need to surrender their 11th overall pick. In absolutely no way should they do that.

I welcome the addition of a proven player at the right cost. However, I think it’s very interesting that Bill Belichick and the Patriots spent $13 million/year on another team’s free agent cornerback, Stephon Gilmore, and seem to have moved on from a former Super Bowl hero. Is there something he knows that the Saints don’t?

Other Observations:

  • A.J. Klein joins a crowded linebacker room faced with a lot questions. Klein, Dannell Ellerbe, Craig Robertson, Stephone Anthony and Nate Stupar all bring strengths and weaknesses to the table. None of those players have a clear position designation. It’ll be interesting to see what the right combination ends up being.  
  • Nick Fairley’s past turned out to be a blessing for the Saints. Not only did the Saints get him at a bargain rate in 2016, they also benefited in negotiations. His inconsistent undoubtedly had a factor in the market for his services. The big money offers didn’t materialize for Fairley and the Saints were able to get him locked up long term at a very reasonable $7.5 million a season.
  • Going by the draft points chart, Brandin Cooks had the value of the 30th overall pick in the trade to the Patriots. If Cooks were coming out in this draft class, based on just his college resume’, I’d be curious to know how close to 30 he would have gotten picked.
  • Speaking of the Cooks deal, it turns out the Titans did not offer the 18th pick in exchange for him. This makes sense as it clearly would have been the better option for the Saints. The deal that was proposed, according to Pro Football Talk, was swapping the fifth and 11th overall picks and the Saints receive an additional third rounder. That’s not a terrible swap, but of the deals proposed, the Patriots’ offer was the best.

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