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Kristian Garic

Wake up to live, local sports talks with Kristian and T-Bob Hebert on "Double Coverage!" 

Weekdays 6am-9am on 3WL 1350-AM

Twitter: @kristiangaric1
Email: kristian@3wl1350.com


Kristian: Saints re-sign Sanford to one-year deal

The Saints continue to make roster moves, agreeing to terms with veteran safety Jamarca Sanford on a 1 year deal. Sanford's agent Drew Rosehaus confirmed the signing.

Sanford joined the Saints last season after a rash of injuries in the secondary. The Saints have been moving money all over the place for the last couple of days. Keep in mind the team doesn't have to be under the cap until March 10th at 3pm.
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Kristian: Saints free up some cash by restructuring Colston

Saints WR Marques Colston has agreed to re-structure his contract, freeing up some cash for the team. Colston, a charter member of the Saints under Sean Payton, arrived in 2006 as a seventh round pick.

Colston was scheduled to earn a base salary of $6.9 million this year with bonuses pushing that cap figure to $9.7 million dollars. It's unclear just how much the Saints will trim off the cap, as they try and get underneath the $143.2 million dollar league wide salary cap by 3pm on March 10th.

READ MORE: Kristian: Should Drew Brees take a pay cut?

READ MORE: T-Bob: Don't you dare call Drew Brees greedy
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Kristian: Saints free up cash by converting Byrd's bonus

The biggest free agent acquisition of the 2014 season, safety Jairus Byrd, has re-structured his contract. The Saints converted Byrd's $6 million dollar roster bonus into a signing bonus. New Orleans will shave $4.8 million dollars off the 2015 salary cap.

Byrd will now count for $5.5 million against the cap this season and the $6 million will be spread over the remaining five years of his contract his signed last March. The restructured deal was first reported by ESPN's Field Yates.

The Saints are still roughly $15.5 million dollars over the cap, and have until March 10th at 3pm to get under the league mandated $143.2 million dollar over-all cap for 2015. More roster moves are sure to follow before then.
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Kristian: Should Drew Brees take a pay cut?

The cash strapped Saints are trying to trim money off the 2015 salary cap, and the question becomes; is now the time for Drew Brees to come to the Saints rescue and take a pay cut? That's a bold statement, a bold idea, and some feel a necessity! I for one don't think he needs to volunteer to take less money.

I'm all about being a team player, don't get it twisted. Just spare me from the argument that Brees should approach the Saints about giving up some cash. That's silly! Peyton Manning didn't volunteer, the Broncos asked him.

The Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning restructured his contract and Manning took a pay cut. That's pretty rare in the NFL for elite quarterbacks, but Manning dropped his base salary from $19 to $15 million this year. I know! What's four million dollars? To me and you that's a lot of money; he's got enough money right? Well it's the world they live in; it's the same thing if you and I are getting paid in our job…what's the market value…what's the going rate for my services? You want fair compensation don't you?

T-Bob: Don't you dare call Drew Brees greedy

So with that… the question becomes should Drew Brees do the same? Should he take a page out of Manning's playbook and take a pay cut? Brees counts for $26 million dollars against the cap this year, that's a ton for one player! By the way he has the highest base salary among starting QB's in the NFL.

Let's go back for a second on Manning's deal… he has four million incentive so he can re-coup some money if he leads the Broncos to an AFC championship game or a Super Bowl. It's a two way street in this argument. I mean we hear it all the time, if a player wants to renotiate his contract the argument is "hey you should honor your contract that you agreed to." Why isn't that argument thrown at NFL clubs when they sign guys to big contracts? Why doesn't that apply? Why shouldn't NFL teams honor their commitment? NFL contracts are not guaranteed like the NBA!

The Saints knew this cap would be this astronomical when they signed Brees to an extension in 2012… so how is that Brees's fault? "Be a team player," here comes that argument! He is your team player though. Without him you're 4 and 12 at best. Brees shouldn't go to the Saints and volunteer to take a pay cut. That's not his obligation!

Now if the Saints approach him and he won't restructure then maybe you have an argument.. then maybe he's not being a team player. If I'm Drew Brees… I'm waiting on the Saints to come to me. How many of you would go to your boss and say "Hey take some of my money to add this employee?" It's fine when it's not your money to say that, but when it IS your money I'd bet you feel different about it.

If your boss came to you and said hey, we would like to add a few more pieces to the company to make us more successful overall and make you more successful and pro-long your time here… I would be at least open to listening to that. I wouldn't like the possibility of losing money but I would at least be open to the possibility.

Brees should be open to the idea, but shouldn't have to approach the Saints about re-doing his deal. The Saints would be fair and right to approach him though.

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Kristian: Corner is a priority for Saints in free agency

NFL free agency is right around the corner. Typically the Saints haven't been big spenders in this time, aside from last off-season when they spent big money bringing in Jairus Byrd just hours into free agency. The Saints like the bargain players. I wouldn't expect Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis to throw a lot of money around in 2015, but they'll still have enough to add a couple of nice pieces.

The Saints have had pretty good success finding cornerbacks on the open market and I expect the team will look at that position in free agency to fill the void opposite of Keenan Lewis. Here a few players the Saints might target in free agency at the CB spot.

Perish Cox: (San Francisco) Could command a little more money than the Saints are willing to spend, but Cox would be a solid addition. He has nice size at 6'0 and 190 lbs. There is just something about San Francisco - they can develop CB's!

Davon House: (Green Bay) Was primarily a nickel and dime back for Green Bay, but is ready for a larger role. Corners get paid on the open market but he could be a good fit for the Saints. The exact kind of player they look at; a player with upside and something to prove.

Chris Culliver (San Francisco) See what I said above about Cox. San Francisco just produces CB's like the LSU Tigers produce DB's. He's coming off an ACL injury and that might be what drops his value in free agency. However, the Saints have been willing to roll the dice with injured players in the past.

Walter Thurmond (New York Giants) Signed a one year deal with New York last off-season in hopes of cashing in big this spring. Injuries have hampered his effectiveness, and would a high risk/reward player. He was a hot name tossed around last March, and the Saints considered adding him then. I wonder if they'll revisit that possibility for the right price.

The Saints won't have a ton of money to spend, but don't expect them to sit idle in free agency. New Orleans will likely let the free agency frenzy calm down a bit after the first few hours and let the market slow down and go find their bargain or two.
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Kristian: Saints will release Pierre Thomas

The Saints have informed running back Pierre Thomas he will be released by the March 10th deadline for teams to be under the $143 million dollar salary cap figure. Thomas arrived to the Saints as an un-drafted free agent out of Illinois in 2007, and was a clutch player for the Saints during his 8 year run in New Orleans.

Thomas restructured his contract in 2014 and proved expendable after missing five games last season with a chest injury. The Saints are $22 million over the salary cap, and need to find money anywhere they can get it. Thomas was particularly adept at running the screen play for the Saints, cashing in on several big plays including a touchdown in Super Bowl XLIV against the Colts. He is the first player in Saints history to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

The "PT Bruiser" as he was affectionately known by the fans, rushed for 222 yards on 45 carries last season and 2 rushing Touchdowns. His best season as a Saints running back came in 2011 when he carried the ball 147 times for 793 yards and 6 touchdowns

I know it's hard for fans to say goodbye to favorite players, but it's necessary in order to try and retool the Saints roster for 2015. If this move hurt your feelings, you might want to stay off the internet or away from the radio/tv for a few days because there are more coming. Several players could be on the chopping block including offensive linemen Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, Marques Colston. To improve, you have to part ways with the fan favorite players - it's unfortunately a part of the NFL.

For the record - releasing Thomas is the right move, considering the options the Saints will have at running back in the draft this year. The running back position is so undervalued by NFL teams, the Saints likely feel they can get the same production out of a cheaper, younger rookie.
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Kristian: Top priority for Saints - corner or offensive line?

Which position is the highest priority of need for the Saints to address this off-season? Is it cornerback or offensive line (guard)? You could make an solid argument for either one, and originally I thought it was offensive line. However, my partner T-Bob Hebert has swayed me just a bit.

I originally felt like the guard position was one the Saints should value as the top priority. T-Bob feels that cornerback is top position of need: "Just look how bad the Saints were last year on 3rd down. Every team looked opposite of Keenan Lewis when they needed a conversion on 3rd down. They went after the other cornerback and converted way too often," T-Bob explained. The Saints were abysmal in getting off the field on 3rd down last season, and he brings up a great point. The cornerback position is the highest priority this off-season.

Where will the Saints turn to address that need? If you look at the hstory under Sean Payton, you should be able to find the answer. Likely it will be free agency. The Saints haven't had a lot of success at cornerback in the draft, yielding players such as Patrick Robinson (1s round in 2011) and Corey White (5th round in 2012). Neither of aforementioned players has exactly solidified their place as the Saints answer at cornerback. New Orleans drafted Stanley Jean-Baptiste in the second round last year, and he rarely saw the field.

Look for the Black and Gold to try to sign a cornerback in free agency, which starts on March 10th. Jabari Greer and Keenan Lewis, two of the most successful CB's to play for the Saints under Payton have come via free agency - not the draft.

In addressing the offensive line need, the Saints might be better served finding a player in the later stages of the draft. Once again history serves as the best prognosticator of the Saints future here. Aside from Charles Brown, the Saints have typically drafted offensive lineman linemen in the middle to late rounds. Terron Armstead, the current starter at left tackle was selected in the third round, Zach Strief, the starter at right tackle is a 7th round pick. New Orleans has had tremendous success finding O-linemen late in the draft. Jahri Evans was a fourth round selection. Jermon Bushrod who started for the Saints in 2009 through 2011 landed with New Orleans via a 4th round selection.

I could rattle off a few more here but I won't bore you with the draft history. Depending on how the Saints address the cornerback position, the Saints could be in the market to draft an offensive lineman or two in the upcoming NFL draft at the end of April and beginning of May.
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Kristian: How close are the Saints to returning to winning ways?

March 10th is the start of NFL free agency, and the Saints are trying to plot ways to improve the roster in free agency and the draft. Saints color analyst Hokie Gajan says the Black and Gold have a lot of holes to fill: “We all know the defense needs improvement but that offense is not a well-oiled machine” he said.  

So are the Saints closer to to the 2013 success or more along the finish of 2014?  “They are not one or two players away, not from what I saw last year,” Gajan said.  So it doesn’t seem like a simple fix. 

The Saints have a number of questions to answer.  Just to name a few; will the team keep Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs on the offensive line or make a change?  What will the Saints do with OLB Junior Galette? His legal troubles aside, let’s face it - he didn’t play well against the run in 2014 and finished with 10 sacks.  How will New Orleans fix the cornerback position that seemingly was a revolving door last year?

The answers remain a mystery, but arguably this could be the most important year at the helm for Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis. “Without a doubt Sean Payton’s equity has been eroded a bit by the suspension in 2012, and the 7 and 9 finish in 2014,” Hokie continued. 

Let’s go back to Galette for a second... he’s due a $12.5 million dollar roster bonus in a few days.  The Saints seem like they’re locked into the four year extension they inked Galette to at the start of last season.  However, the team could decide to convert that roster bonus into a signing bonus, and trim some money off the salary cap.  I disagree with Hokie on the Saints being a few moves away from being a contender again.  

Here is why; you still have a franchise QB in Drew Brees (go ahead and argue to the contrary) and I don’t think the talent on defense is truly what we saw last season, I expect them to be much improved in 2015.  Also, if the Saints tweak the offensive line, and find a cornerback they’re right back in the mix. 
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Kristian: Semper Why, part two - no apology needed

The email that sparked my blog “Semper Why” turned out to be one of my favorite conversations in the last 10 years.  Jerry, a listener and fan, reached out to me again and extended the apology below: 

Kristian,
 
I just wanted to apologize for my heartless criticism about your service to our country.
 
I'm a progressive and am tired of hearing these right wing chicken hawks wanting to push us into a holy war over ISIS.  I had been broiling for quite some time over this issue and took it out on you.  Not calling you a "chicken hawk" and I don't know your politics, but you didn't deserve it…and, again, I want to tell you I'm sorry.
 
I truly think you're one of the most talented voices on WWL.  I love listening to you on sports, because your opinions and point of view seems to mirror mine...and I think sonically you have one of the best voices out there. (You know how you hear someone's voice on the radio and you kind of form a mental picture of that person based on sound and language and grammar?)  Your likeness and your voice DO NOT correlate, and I think that's a good thing.  I love learning new things and challenging my perceptions...
 
For the third time, I'm sorry and sometimes I still spew a knee jerk reaction to something and wish just after I could take it back....
 
NEW RULE....NEXT TIME, YOU'RE SENDING AN OPINION....SAVE IT AND IF YOU STILL FEEL THAT WAY THE NEXT DAY THEN 'SEND IT'.


Let’s get right to Jerry’s “I'm sorry and sometimes I still spew a knee jerk reaction to something and wish just after I could take it back.”  This is powerful on a number of fronts.  Marines are prideful human beings, and we don’t like admitting flaws. Jerry admitted his initial email was wrong.  I appreciate his apology, but it wasn’t necessary.  I mean that.  I really wasn’t offended by as much as I was enlightened by the conversation “Semper Why” launched.  

We’ve all been there, right?  We’ve all said something we wish we could take back…like Jerry.  It happens to me frequently as a radio host, a father, and a son.  I’ve said some things I regret.  However, I’m not so sure I’m willing to admit mistakes in judgment as Jerry is; that’s truly a trait I admire.  

I’m particularly impressed by the last line, “NEW RULE....NEXT TIME, YOU'RE SENDING AN OPINION....SAVE IT AND IF YOU STILL FEEL THAT WAY THE NEXT DAY THEN 'SEND IT.”  

Jerry, you proved your point very clearly.  While you believe in your opinions, you’re open to others.  It’s safe to say you too were shaped by your service to our country.  Once again, Semper Fi…always faithful!    Apology accepted, but not required.  
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Kristian: Semper why? It's personal; my service in the Marines

I can’t and won’t take credit for the title, because it’s the subject of an email I received from someone Sunday morning during my show “It’s Just Sports.”  The email came from a very faithful listener, who gave me plenty of things to think about…and talk about.  

See Jerry’s email below. 

Kristian,
You're always pushing your service in the Marines, on your site, in commercials ...when were you in the Marines and where did you serve out of country... Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, the Falklands, Germany...?   If you joined up and stayed in the states....then you need to stop punching up your bio about the Marines.  Sorry Kristian, that's just being fair...I loved that you served in the Marines, but if you spent your time, hanging in the states, then please stop yourself aggrandizement …please, 
drafted Vietnam Vet.
Jerry

 
P.S.   You're a great sports commentator for WWL.  To keep busting and endorsing your service in the Marines...a Marine would never use that to better his situation. If you were a true service member, you wouldn't have to keep endorsing this.  Your skills are better than your history...


For those who listen to me on WWL or 3WL 1350am, I sign on and off the radio with “Semper Fi,” which is short for Semper Fidelis.  It’s a Latin phrase that means “always faithful.”  The phrase is often passed from United States Marines to former and currently serving members of the Corps.  I use the phrase for a number of reasons.  For one, I’m very proud of the time I spent in the United States Marine Corps from 1997 to 2001.  I’m a third generation military service member in my family.  My father and grandfather both served in the Army.  My dad retired from the Army in 1998, and my grandfather saw extensive military action as an infantryman in WWII.  

When I sign on the radio with “Semper Fi,” it’s not rubbing anyone’s face in the fact that I served OUR country.  I’m simply paying homage to the men and woman who have or are currently serving OUR country.  Semper Fi is a salute of sorts, and I have a great platform at WWL Radio (that reaches 5 states daytime and over 38 states at night) and feel obligated to salute our troops as often as possible.  I’ve explained this “Semper Fi” sign on and off before on the radio, and just wanted to put it in writing, especially after this email from Jerry.  

I rarely if ever talk about my service in the Marines in commercials, and occasionally manage-ment refers to me as WWL’s “resident Marine.”  They are proud of my service, and other military service members should feel good that WWL/Entercom Communications take such pride in trying to highlight and salute our veterans.  

To go further in trying to answer Jerry’s questions about my military service here goes:  

I served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1997 to 2001, graduating from boot camp in Parris Island South Carolina in 1998 before attending School of Infantry in the spring of 1998.  Later I was assigned to 1st battalion 8th Marines (2nd Marine Division) Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  During my time as a 0341 (Mortar man) as a member of Weapons Company in 1/8, I served overseas in Okinawa Japan, returning state side for 2 years, before ripping up my shoulder in a training exercise. Because of a badly torn labrum, I was declared physically unable to deploy for the final 9 months of my 4-year enlistment contract.  After shoulder surgery to repair my injury (six anchors in my left shoulder), I completed my 4-year obligation with an honorable discharge in 2001.  

I served during peace time; I was fortunate to a degree.  I got out of the Marines literally 2 days before 9-11; more on that in a moment.  Peacetime or wartime doesn’t make your tour of duty any less significant in my eyes.  I signed up with the expectation of potentially going to combat.  I knew it was a very real possibility and was certainly okay with that possibility.  By in large, I was disappointed that at the end of my four years I didn’t go to combat, or serve in a military operation overseas, because I trained for that moment, and never got a chance to exercise that tough, Marine Corps training.  

For those men and woman who have served or currently serving in combat, and certainly for those who paid the ultimate price for our country, you are heroes, honorable men and woman with distinguished patriotism, and valor. Thank you!  Jerry served during Vietnam, and to you Jerry I say…thank you!  You’re a brave soul.  I do believe, however, Jerry is no more or less brave than others who served during peace time, including me.  I followed orders, and would have been willing to go to combat, if the order came down.  Within minutes of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center in New York on 9-11, I called my command and asked them if I was going to be recalled, and volunteered to go back.  My command told me they would call me if they needed me.   I never received that call.

When I first received the email from Jerry, I have to admit I was a little aggravated.  Then, I realized why Jerry’s able to send that email.  It’s because we live in a great country.  We can debate the issues facing America today, but it’s still the best country on earth, period cut and dry.  

I’m in love with America for a number of reasons.  Jerry’s email speaks volumes about why.  Even though I disagree with much of his commentary, he’s entitled to his opinions, and hell…Jerry, the Vietnam vet, fought for our country and earned the right to speak out to another military service member.  

With that said; I don’t say Semper Fi to better my position.  I never use the fact that I am a discharged Marine with my employer.  My work speaks for itself with Entercom and WWL/3WL.  However, I do highlight my time in the Marines because it shaped me into the man I look at in the mirror every day, and feel really good about the person staring back at me.  It helped to shape me into the person, father, and son I am today.   I say “Semper Fi” as a salute to the “Tomb of the unknown Soldier,” to the petty officer at the Naval Air Base in Belle Chasse who listens to WWL, and to the young men and women currently serving our country at home or abroad, and those men and women who are considering enlisting or joining our great military to become the next American hero.  

Another question I field a lot:  Can I as a caller say “Semper Fi” to you even if I didn’t serve?.  Absolutely!  I don’t look at it as a Marine thing, but a thank you.  I’m proud that I did things most wouldn’t dare and gave up some things most Americans wouldn’t dare give up.  But, that doesn’t make me a better person, it makes me a Marine, nothing more!  Some people are meant to serve, some are not.  Some serve in combat, some don’t.  But it doesn’t diminish the sacrifice either way.  

In closing I would like to respond to Jerry’s final comment.  “Your skills are better than your history.”  While I’m humbled by the kind remarks, I beg to differ.  My skills were created by my history; a history that was shaped by my service.  
Thank you and Semper Fi!  If you call me on the air or address me on line, please don’t hesitate to use the greeting Semper Fi!

UPDATE: Jerry emailed me again and apologized. You can read our correspondence and my reaction clicking the link below.

READ MORE: Semper Why, Part 2 - No Apologies Needed

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