Few teams have had a more interesting past several years than the New Orleans Saints have. After winning the Super Bowl a few years ago the Saints have flirted with prominence, often times looking to be a title contender once more before dropping out of the playoffs.
Not to mention the season when they were without their head coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season, finishing with a record of 7-9 and short of a playoff spot.
This past season the Saints earned their way back in to the playoffs as a Wild Card with an 11-5 record. They won their Wild Card game against the Eagles but then fell to the Seattle Seahawks who went on to win the Super Bowl.
The Saints had a very talented team going into the offseason and were poised to make another run at a title for next season. But recent developments from New Orleans might indicate something different.
There has been a lot of talk and criticism over the franchise tag that was placed on the Saints’ superstar Tight End Jimmy Graham. Graham is by far one of the top Tight Ends in the league and is going to get a huge contract when he gets the chance to sign with another team. But New Orleans desperately wants to hold on to him — without paying him what he deserves.
So their other options were to get rid of other key players on the offense to make some cap room to sign Graham to a long contract. Pretty good idea, right?
Maybe. It seems good at first, but you have to heavily consider who they would be cutting ties with. So far the Saints have cut both Darren Sproles and Lance Moore from their roster to make cap space. These were two of the Saints’ biggest offensive weapons that they have simply let go of.
It was reported that they were released after no potential interest from other teams. Not only does that surprise me, but I really am beginning to wonder how the Saints believe this will all work out.
Yes, maybe New Orleans gets the necessary cap space to resign Graham, but will that be the best thing for the team to actually do? First of all, Graham has stated via his Twitter that he is very displeased with the way the Saints have conducted business this offseason, I suppose there is really no guarantee that he would even want to stay in New Orleans after being franchise tagged twice and seen to of his teammates get released.
On top of that, cutting Sproles and Moore will only make things more difficult for Graham to perform this upcoming season. The reason that Graham and the rest of the Saints offense is so explosive is because of the sheer number of weapons that they have had over the years. Getting rid of Sproles and Moore might bring the Saints the cap space they need to resign Graham, but there is a good chance it will also deeply affect his impact on the offense.
The Saints have made some questionable decisions this offseason. I believe that they are mostly due to the fear of losing a player like Graham. They understand that just about every team would love to have the star Tight End, especially a team like Atlanta who is going to be in need of a tight end.
Time will tell if the Saints moves benefitted them in any way. As for now, I am giving the Saints a D for their evaluation, although there is still so much more to come.
Tyler Rollason is a Winder-Barrow High School graduate and mass communications major at the University of West Georgia. He writes a weekly sports column for the Barrow Journal. You can e-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.