Kristian: Championship window still wide open for Saints
by Kristian Garic,posted Jan 14 2014 12:58PM
Drew Brees is approaching 35 years of age this month, and the Saints already have one Super Bowl Championship with he and Payton leading the charge. The Saints have been to the post-season three of the last four years, and twice have been bounced in the divisional round of the playoffs, just one win away from another Super Bowl appearance. Is time running out for the Saints to capitalize on their elite Coach/QB combo?
Not if you ask Coach Payton: "I said to our players, you are going to hear this new buzzword called 'window.' Honestly, the window, as long as I am the Head Coach here, we are trying to slam it open, always. You can take each individual player and say, 'When is the window of opportunity?' I think I have heard that term the last three years. Now, with regards to a specific player like Drew Brees, I get that, and yet that window is still all the way open and I mean that. We are always in a constant change, if you will, of taking in the new players, evaluating this team and then going through the process of assembling the 2014 team. That window for us each year is slammed open.”
Teams are structured in two ways these days; look no further than the final four teams left in the tournament. The Patriots and Broncos both have future Hall of Fame Quaterbacks (The Saints also fall into that category with Brees!) and the Seahawks and 49ers have young up-and-coming quarterbacks that haven't reached the 20-million-a-year threshold. The 49ers and Seahawks get it done with a strong running game and great defense. San Francisco and Seattle haven't had to pay their QB's, so they have more money to spend on defense. The Saints have spent their money on their franchise signal caller. The Saints might not have the depth they once had, but they've got plenty of young talented players that can help them get there.
Drew Brees definitely agrees with his Coach on the championship window being wide open: “Absolutely. You look around and look at the veteran leadership we have on this team, look at the young talent, look at the systems in which we play, this organization, the expectation level we’ve set for ourselves, the track record... and you would say that the future is as bright as we want it to be; as hard as we are willing to work. It’s all there for us now. Every year is a new year and you have to re-establish that identity every year. But the term 'window of opportunity,' in my opinion, it’s always there for us, for this team, for this organization, for this staff, for this group of players. It’s always open.”
The Saints are projected to be about 17 million dollars over the 126 million dollar salary cap figure for 2014. They've always been smart with money, and I'm sure they'll figure it out. After finishing 12 and 6 (1-1 in the playoffs) I would agree the window is wide open for the Saints. The Black and Gold are not far off. A few more complimentary pieces on offense and playmaker or two on defense, and the Saints are always in the mix with Payton and Brees. 2014 looks bright, awfully bright.