If you are a certified (or certifiable) football junkie – what do you do to satisfy your football fix between the end of the draft and the beginning of training camps? Well, there are certainly a few days that create news: Rookie Mini Camps, OTA’s, and the trickle of movement in a free agent market that is pretty well picked over.
The 2016 offseason has been a little more exciting than some – both good and bad. The New Orleans Saints have not made a lot of headlines, although they were very active in trying to reshape their team. It is just that so much else has grabbed the spotlight.
Hot topics have included Sam Bradford’s short-lived, ill-advised holdout. There has also been a lot of talk about Johnny Manziel being cut by Cleveland. Most of that has been a long list of parties, tattoos and trouble – nothing that will endear him to another team looking for a quarterback.
This has also been an offseason of major player movement and not just by second-tier players. Heir apparent Brock Osweiler, bolted from the defending Super Bowl champs to play for Houston. Josh Norman received the franchise tag from Carolina, had it rescinded, and moved to DC. Chandler Jones was traded to the Cardinals. Ryan Fitzpatrick is still unsigned by the Jets. Running backs were a hot commodity as Matt Forte, Chris Ivory, Alfred Morris, DeMarco Murray and Lamar Miller changed teams. Not to mention Beastmode – Marshawn Lynch – retiring in Seattle.
In receiver news the Saints did make a bit of a splash. After losing Ben Watson to the Ravens, they lured Coby Fleener away from a young stud quarterback in Andrew Luck with the enticement of Drew Brees, a proven commodity with the ability to make even the average receiver look better. Fleener will have a chance to increase his production since Brees’ favorite clutch receiver – Marques Coleman – was not resigned.
They also are hoping for a resurgence from James Laurinaitis, who has been a captain for the Rams and will bring veteran presence to a young defense that definitely struggled last year. They also had a above average draft according to most experts and are pinning their hopes on Sheldon Rankins (DL), Michael Thomas (WR) and Vonn Bell (S) to contribute immediately. Rookie mini-camps aren’t much of an indicator, but things look good if attitude and confidence count for anything in the NFL.
Of course the one thing everyone is talking about in New Orleans is the contract status of Drew Brees. There is a fear that Brees will play out this contract and go elsewhere of the Saints don’t pay him what he feels he is worth in today’s quarterback driven league. If he isn’t offered something close to the upper echelon, he may indeed look elsewhere. Right now he is paid about the same as Joe Flacco.
Considering Brees has just a many Super Bowl Rings, massively greater stats and hasn’t had the type of dominating defense Flacco has worked with, “Flacco” money may not be enough. Since this will be his last contract in all probability, he will need to make it count.
Oh — and let’s not forget the “It’s not my fault the defense was bad” coming out from Rob Ryan’s interviews recently. That started a war of words in the media about who was to blame for one of the worst defenses in the league the past few seasons.
All things considered, I guess the Saints have made a few headlines that garnered league wide attention. Let’s hope they continue to be for the right reasons as the Saints move into the dog days of summer.