While the NFL free agency period has quieted down a bit following a fast and furious opening, that doesn't mean there still isn't important business to take care of, especially for the Saints.
The team needed a safety, and checked that off the to-do list in a big way by inking 3-time Pro Bowler Jairus Byrd to a 6 year deal. Great; but now what?
My top priority right now if I worked for the Saints would be to shore up the offensive line that protects "the franchise" Drew Brees. There were too many times this past season when Brees got rocked, definitely more than I've ever seen in the past. The numbers don't lie either; he was sacked a career-high 37 times, and each one made the Who Dat Nation cringe and gasp.
Tackle Zach Strief and center Brian De La Puente are both free agents and still currently on the market. The buzz is that the Dolphins and Jets may take a look-see at Strief while the market for De La Puente has been rather tepid, with only the Giants having expressed interest.
I could see Strief retuning to the Saints, but feel like De La Peunte's days in Black & Gold are done.
Some other o-line possibilities out on the open market right now are:
Tackle Donald Penn
He was released by Tampa after the Bucs signed free agent Anthony Collins. Penn has never missed a game, but his play seemed to take plunge last year. Still he is the top ranked tackle currently available.
Tackle Michael Oher
He is best known for being the subject of the book turned move "The Blindside". Oher has spent the first 5 years of his career working on the right side of the Baltimore Ravens offensive line, but he has never been able to develop into the top-tier bookend they were hoping for.
Center Evan Dietrich-Smith
Dietrich-Smith appeared in all 16 games each of the past three seasons in Green Bay and split time between center and guard. He started all 16 this past season strictly at center and would definitely be an upgrade for the Saints. The big question though…is his price tag fairly reasonable?
When a loved one decides they need to stick up for you in the workplace, the results are NEVER good. Amid the talks Darren Sproles would be released by the Saints and then reports turned to that the running back was getting traded, Sproles wife Michel took to social media to express her frustration:
As for the latest on what is going on with the running back, he has been shipped off to the Philadelphia Eagles. Kind of a surprising move by the Black & Gold since Philly is in the NFC and a legitimate playoff contender. I guess at least the Saints don't play the Eagles in the regular season this year.
In return, the Saints get a 5th round draft pick. It was originally owned by the New England Patriots and is the 157th overall selection. The Saints now currently own 7 draft picks in 2014.
The NFL free agency period opens today at 3pm, and while the Saints are fighting the salary cap, GM Mickey Loomis will still be active in the market. Don't expect the team to chase any big names, though, as they are still trying to hook their own big fish by penning a long-term deal with tight end Jimmy Graham.
Here are my main positons of need and some names the Saints could target. Click through to see their stats!
It appears from that tweet that Pierre Thomas is the 3rd player released by the Saints in the last 2 days. The list of players let go by the Black & Gold is really starting to hit a nerve with fans. Roman Harper, Will Smith, Jabari Greer, Lance Moore, Darren Sproles and now PT!
Even the man the team is trying to re-sign to a big multi-year deal has chimed in. Jimmy Graham tweets:
Wow unbelievable. Shocked and disappointed on everything that's gone on this offseason.
The romance between Lance and the Saints is over as the team released the sure-handed wide receiver today. In 9 seasons while donning the Black & Gold, Moore caught 346 passes for 4,281 yards and 38 touchdowns. His production dropped off last season though as he missed 3 games with a hand injury and found the end-zone just twice.
The 30-year-old definitely still has gas left in the tank and should have no troubles finding a new home. The Who Dat Nation will no doubt find it odd to see Moore in a new uniform, but where could that be? Off the top of my head, five teams came to mind, but there are plenty. Sadly, two are in the NFC South. YIKES!
1: Detroit Lions
The Motown Cats make a ton of sense since former New Orleans quarterback coach Joe Lombardi was hired by them this offseason to be their new offensive coordinator. At his introductory press conference Lombardi said, ""There will be a lot of similarities to the Saints' playbook. You are going to see some difference, but the playbook that we are starting from is the Saints' playbook, so it will certainly be very similar."
Moore would not only provide Lions QB Matthew Stafford another target, but also help the rest of Detroit's WR corp learn Lombardi's offense.
2: Carolina Panthers
This would be a devastating punch in the gut to Saints fans. Seeing Moore in powder blue and black would certainly cause the Who Dat Nation to convulse or start dry-heaving. The fact is, though, that the Panthers need to surround QB Cam Newton with more sure-handed WRs and Moore fits the bill.
3: Washington Redskins
Besides Pierre Garcon, RG3 doesn't really have any other receiving threats. The 'Skins will look to bounce back this season after a dismal 2013 and keeping their franchise QB happy is priority numero uno. Getting a sure-handed #2 receiver though is just one of many needs for this ballclub.
4: Kansas City Chiefs
Getting Moore in Andy Reid's offense seems like a perfect fit to me, and the Chiefs are lacking big time at WR. Their leading receiver last season was RB Jamal Charles and pairing Dwayne Bowe and Lance Moore up could wind up boosting both wideouts' numbers.
5: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Landing in Tampa would not be as much of a blow as going to Carolina, but it would still wound Saints fans since they'd have to see Moore in those new God-awful Bucs uniforms twice a year. I believe the Buccaneers made the right choice hiring Lovie Smith to be their new head coach, and this franchise could be a legitimate threat in the division next year. Moore would instantly upgrade an offense that finished dead last year in passing yards in 2013.
Believe it or not, things actually got worse for the Pelicans last night in Dallas. Not only did the team lose its 5th straight contest, but yet another player was hurt in the process.
This season has been a disaster with injuries piling up. Jason Smith is out for the season (knee), Ryan Anderson (herniated disc) and Jrue Holiday (tibia) are out indefinitely; now the face of the franchise, Anthony Davis joins the list after suffering a sprained left shoulder.
He was seen on the sidelines wearing a sling, but still no word yet on the severity or how much time he will miss.
"We don't know much right now," Coach Monty Williams said. "He's talking to the doctors and we'll find out more after he's had more testing done."
Davis did sprain the same shoulder last season and missed just 2 games. Looking at last night's replay over and over again it doesn't look to be significant, but we should find out more later today.
Coach Paul Mainieri’s baseball team dropped their first game of the season 4-1 Tuesday night to UL Lafayette, but it was not a complete nine inning contest. The game was cut short due to inclement weather as the Tigers fell to 7-1 on the season.
“It’s a strange feeling to lose a game when you don’t get to play the full nine innings, but those are the rules of baseball,” said Mainieri. “I never expected us to go 56-0 this season, and there’s no shame in losing a rain-shortened game to a Top 10 team.”
LSU junior Cody Glenn was saddled with loss as he gave up 3 runs on 5 hits in 4 innings of work. Things were going great until the top of the 3rd inning when he seemed to lose command. Glenn walked the leadoff batter and gave up a triple followed by a sac fly for a 2 run inning.
But the question I ask though; is it fair? Why is it that in baseball you don’t have to play a full nine innings for the game to count?
Imagine if the Saints were in Tampa and the game got called in the 3rd quarter because of bad weather! I understand the conditions did not allow for the teams’ to continue on, but why not resume play in the morning?
This is not a frequent occurrence at least. The last time LSU played in a game shortened due to weather was back in 1999. That to was a loss at the hands of Northwestern State, 12-6 in 8 innings.
The Tigers will look to get back to their winning ways starting Friday with a three game series against Yale. The Bulldogs have not played a game yet so they are opening their season in Alex Box Stadium.
Two weeks into the season, and Fightin’ Tiger baseball has earned themselves a record of 7-0 and a #1 ranking from the Collegiate Baseball magazine poll released today. This is the 5th time LSU baseball as been ranked in the top spot during Paul Mainieri’s 8 years as head coach.
Be sure to catch Mainieri on Sports Talk with Bobby Hebert and Deke Bellavia tonight at 5:20pm!
Ace Aaron Nola has also been named by the Collegiate Baseball magazine as one of its National Players of the Week.
The junior tossed a no-hitter for seven innings Friday night versus Virginia Tech before leaving the game due to a pitch count restriction. Nola threw 87 pitches in seven shutout frames, allowing no hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
Nola is 2-0 on the season and he has a 0.00 ERA in 13 innings with one walk and 14 strikeouts.
LSU Baseball Overall Record: 7-0
Last Week’s Results
Feb. 19 – at Southeastern Louisiana (W, 7-3)
Feb. 21 – vs. Virginia Tech (W, 9-0)
Feb. 22 – vs Toledo (W, 15-1)
Feb. 23 - vs Texas Southern (W, 4-1)
This Week’s Schedule
Feb. 25 – #13 LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE, 6:30 p.m. on WWL
Feb. 28 – YALE, 7 p.m.on WWL
March 1 – YALE, 2 p.m.
March 2 – YALE, 12 p.m. on WWL
New Orleans GM “Dealing” Dell Demps opted to not make any moves this NBA trade deadline, so the Pelicans roster remains unchanged. There were a few rumors involving New Orleans players, but nothing came to fruition.
“You’d like to make moves to improve your team, it just not as easy as everyone thinks,” said Head Coach Monty Williams. “The trades that are made are usually the ones you don’t hear about. All those ones that are talked about are usually never made.”
One player whose name was of interest to quite a few teams was D-League sensation Pierre Jackson. The Pelicans own his draft rights, and he has been lighting up the developmental league averaging 29 points per game with 6 assists. Jackson has now opted to play overseas in Turkey after not getting a deal with the Pelicans or getting traded to another ballclub. New Orleans still owns his draft rights.
We are still waiting to find out forward Ryan Anderson and point guard Jrue Holiday’s status for the rest of the season. Both have been sidelined “indefinitely” with injuries and the team has provided no updates on either player. If the Pelicans really do believe they can close the gap between them and the current 8 seed in the Western conference to make it into the postseason, having both Anderson and Holiday back is a must.