The first unrestricted free agent to leave New Orleans in 2014 is Malcolm Jenkins, according to a source.
The former first-round pick is headed to the Eagles on a three year deal. Jenkins was a part of the Saints' 2009 Super Bowl squad in his rookie season as a cornerback. In 2010, he switched to safety and was voted team captain in 2011. Click here to view his stats.
Free agency is off and running in the NFL! The cash-strapped Dallas Cowboys released veteran DE/OLB Demarcus Ware, and immediately Saints fans started clamoring for Ware in a Black and Gold uniform.
It makes sense... Sean Payton was a part of the Cowboys team as offensive coordinator when Dallas drafted Ware in the 1st round in 2005. Rob Ryan spent time with Ware as the Cowboys' defensive coordinator before coming to New Orleans last year.
I'm not sure what the price tag is at 31 years of age, but Ware was voted the third best player in the NFL by his peers following the 2012 season. After an injury-riddled 2013 campaign, the Saints might be able to snag this very talented pass rusher. Ware would be an interesting combination with Junior Galette and Cameron Jordan.
Ware has 37 sacks in the last three seasons with Dallas.
The Saints will release wide receiver Lance Moore, and save almost $5 million in cap space in the process.
The addition of last year's rookie WR Kenny Stills make this move more palatable. Moore was a part of the Saints' 2009 Super Bowl run, but last year his stats took a dive after he missed three games with a wrist injury. He notched 37 catches for 457 yards and only 2 TDs.
The bottom line is that today's NFL, if you're making a premium salary, you'd better have premium production, which Lance Moore simply did not. As such, it's not shocking to see the Saints release Moore. He is the last player that was still a holdover from the pre-Sean Payton era.
It's a harsh reality that the NFL hsa transformed into a young man's game, where teams are really just renting players as opposed to owning them. The young players fill a void at cheaper costs, and the superstar high-priced talent continue to be talented and high-priced.
The Saints are reportedly exploring the possibility of trading three big names on offense.
Those names are Pierre Thomas, Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, according to ESPN.
The cash-strapped Saints could trim several million dollars off the salary cap with a trade of one or three of the aforementioned players.
The possibility of a trade isn't surprising, considering the desire to re-sign Tight End Jimmy Graham and Tackle Zach Strief. The Saints have $1.5 million of cap space ahead of opening day of free agency on March 11th. Teams can begin negotiating with players on Saturday March 8th.
One former Saints player who asked to remain anonymous doesn't agree with me about the possibility of moving Moore, Thomas, and possibly Sproles.
"What the f*** are they doing? Tearing it down? They better be careful how fast they do it. They're being too aggressive in one off-season," he said.
He added "They seem to forget the formula to their success. They think they don't need any vets because some young players flashed and played well last season."
The Saints have put a non-exclusive franchise tag on Jimmy Graham. If you're not familiar, that means another NFL team - any NFL team - could make an offer and negotiate a contract with Graham.
Of course, the Saints would have the right to match any of those offers. For a player like Graham, every team in the league would be interested, but I expect the Saints would come to the table ready to match anything that gets thrown out. If Jimmy went somewhere else, the Saints would be compensated two first-round draft picks. It's a good way to let the market determine Jimmy Graham's worth.
Again, unless it is a truly blockbuster deal, I expect the Saints to come away from any negotiating table with Graham still in line.
Tune in to "Sports Talk" today from 4pm to 8pm to hear Kristian and Bobby discussing possible Graham trade!
What if I told you the Saints should franchise tag tight end Jimmy Graham then promptly trade him? Blasphemy? Hardly. Graham is one of a select few players in the NFL today who is worth at least a first round draft pick and is not a quarterback. What player is more replaceable than Jimmy Graham? Yep you heard me, replaceable! The NFL Draft class of 2014 is chock-full of talent at wide receiver and tight end. Don’t forget, the Saints found Graham in the third round. And Seattle won the Super Bowl without a dominant tight end with wide receiver skills.
What is the greater need; a tight end who plays receiver, or help on the offensive line? Maybe a cornerback who can cover to play opposite Keenan Lewis? Or, perhaps another dynamic pass rusher like Khalil Mack out of Buffalo in the draft? Losing twice to the Seattle Seahawks probably taught this coaching staff some valuable lessons, and one thing we know is that Sean Payton learns fast. Defense -- the kind of defense Seattle plays -- will win more than it will lose. Seattle validated its defensive model in 2013.
The Saints should spend their money elsewhere. They have a franchise quarterback who needs offensive line help. Thirty-seven sacks last season prove there’s room for improvement in this unit. Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, and Darren Sproles would like to see some sort of upgrade in the front five too. Re-signing Jimmy Graham may mean the Saints couldn’t retain one of two veteran free agents along the offensive line. That’s not good.
So let's think this through. Where is Graham’s real value? He presents matchup problems for the defense in the passing game. But just like a center in basketball, Graham needs someone to create scoring opportunities for him. He isn’t the offense; he makes the offense better… much better. Jimmy's not a requirement, but a luxury. For a while, I've said Graham needs to be paid. The question on the table now is, should it be the Saints who pay? The Saints just might be better served by a Jimmy Graham trade for a first round pick, maybe even a first and third or fourth.
The salary cap presents a number of challenges for GMs and coaches who would love to retain superior talent while shoring up the weaknesses of their teams. With the exception of the quarterback position, and in the Saints’ situation, specifically Drew Brees, nearly every other position can be viewed as replaceable, interchangeable. As an aside, the recent CBA seems to have done more to shorten the long-term prospects for veteran players, who seemingly deserve to be highly paid, but find themselves on teams who can no longer afford to pay them. It’s almost a situation where too much individual success leads to being released because retaining them is unaffordable.
Some team will pay Jimmy Graham. He deserves a big pay day. I’m just not sure it should be the Saints. The 2014 NFL Draft promises to be one of the richest in recent draft history, and for the price, those rookies are a bargain. Seattle and San Francisco are repeating their draft harvests of recent seasons. Russell Wilson’s contract pays him less than a million a year!
Loomis, Payton, et al., are among the best talent evaluators in the league. That’s a fact. I can’t help but believe a Graham trade is a real possibility in their thinking. The organization would surely come under criticism for letting an All Pro tight end leave the building. However, elite tight ends don't win championships. Elite QB's and defenses do. The Saints won their lone Super Bowl with an aging Jeremy Shockey at tight end.
The Saints would be better served trading Graham and reinforcing the offensive line, defense and wide receiving corps. Let someone else overpay for a tight end who isn't much of a factor in the running game and sometimes disappears in big games. Against Seattle in the divisional round of the post-season in 2014, Graham was targeted 6 times with just 1 catch. Graham has accounted for 41 touchdowns in his four seasons with New Orleans. That number could just as easily have been spread out between three or four players.
In the final 8 regular season games of 2013 Jimmy Graham only surpassed the 100 yard receiving mark once. Let me say that again. Jimmy had one 100 yard game in the final eight regular season games in 2013. What's more, in the final five games of the regular season Graham failed to reach the 100 yard receiving yardage threshold. It’s worth thinking twice before awarding him top tight end/receiver money.
Graham played in two playoff games in January. He tallied a whopping 4 receptions for 52 yards and zero touchdowns. So, in ten straight games he failed to go over the 100 yard mark. Far from clutch. He's freakishly talented, but would his value be any higher to the Saints than right now?
Pull the trigger. Make the trade and make the team better. Jimmy Graham is excellent, but not a franchise changer. The Saints already have that player...Drew Brees. The Saints can add by subtracting with Jimmy.
I have to confess, I’ve watched maybe 5 minutes of the Winter Olympics this year. For an event that comes around every four years, it should command more of my attention.
Sure, I want Team USA anything to win every gold medal they can. However, it’s just not worth my time to watch! Ice Dancing, Curling, and Cross Country Skiing aren't exactly must-watch TV. Skeleton? Yeah! That get’s my attention, but only for a few minutes. Hockey? Yeah, but unless it’s the medal round, I’m really not that interested. The Olympics is great white noise in the background while reading a book, surfing the web, twitter etc. Watching an Olympic event from start to finish is painful.
Most Olympic events are against a clock or judged by a human being that might not be able to remove bias necessary to objectively render judgment on the competition. I like speed skating, but once you’ve seen one skater fly around the rink in a tight suit, you’ve seen them all. What about snowboarding? That’s interesting, if they crash.
What is the best and worst Olympic sport/event? Hard to pick one on either side of the spectrum, it’s just that archaic and boring. Most of the Olympic (dare I say) Games have been in since 1924. Nearly 90 years of Ice Skating, Bobsleigh, and Cross Country Skiing. OUCH!
The Olympics have time working against them. Thankfully they’re only relevant every four years. Could you imagine if it were every year? Let’s overhaul it. I’ll trade you one Bobsleigh for one 7-on-7 flag football. I’ll trade you one Ice Dancing for one Ice Fishing. I’ll trade you curling for deer hunting. We'll keep Skeleton, Hockey, and ski jumping in.
We’re a now society! We want modern sports, with risk and constant evolution. We want a little violence, danger and drama. I think mopping the floor would be more interesting as a sport than curling. I get the Olympic games are supposed to rival medieval times, but let’s get with the modern times here.
Now see, I can get into the Summer Olympics. Tons of those sports are interesting to me. Boxing! See, it’s filled with drama and a little violence. "Kristian... what about Beach Volleyball?" Of course anything with women in bikinis is intriguing. And what says "tough" like full on tackle with no pads? Keep Rugby forever! How about Diving? Nothing says "big time guts" than jumping off a 100 foot platform into water that feels like cement if you mess it up.
Of course, the Summer Games are not without their fair share of snooze-fest sports. Artistic and Rhythmic gymnastics are at the top of that list. Let’s trade again. Or better yet, let’s just cut those out altogether. Wrestling! Weightlifting! Golf! All keepers! Should Basketball remain? Of course, USA dominates! Keep it!
Notice I didn’t say soccer. It’s not listed as soccer, but listed as Football. When I hear football I think of guys in shoulder pads and scores that combine for a higher total than three.
What sport would you add or take away from the Summer or Winter Olympics? We don’t need to bring back Baseball. What about skydiving? That sounds cool, right? Or even Sharp Shooting? Marksmanship is impressive.
The Saints made two roster moves today, resigning Kicker Shayne Graham for one year at $955,000, as well as inking OT Bryce Harris for one year. Neither move surprised me much, but could make for an interesting backdrop going into Training Camp.
I wouldn't be surprsied either if the Saints added another Kicker before Camp to compete with Graham, who joined the Black and Gold in December after the Saint cut Garrett Hartley. Graham made a great early impression when he kicked the game-winning FG in Philadelphia, but missed two in Seattle.