Three Potential Saints Offseason Headlines That Could Shock the NFL World
The New Orleans Saints have several important decisions facing them this offseason. Head Coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis have been aggressive over the past few years while building a championship contender. Neither man is hesitant about making a move that is equally shocking and unexpected. The Saints have pulled the trigger on moves that took fans by surprise before. Here are a few possible headlines that are highly unlikely to happen but would send a ripple of shock through league circles if they do.
Saints Move on from Quarterback Drew Brees
The 41-Yr old Brees said that he’d take ‘a month or so’ before announcing his intentions for the 2020 season. He is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent if he returns, but the possibility of Brees playing in another uniform other than the Saints is highly unlikely. A nineteen year veteran, Brees still played at a high level in 2019, earning his 13th Pro Bowl bid and averaging nearly 300 yards passing per game. Although the guess here is that Brees returns for at least one more championship run, he could instead step away from the game and focus more on family. With backup Teddy Bridgewater also a free agent and likely to get a lucrative deal elsewhere, a Brees retirement would send the franchise scrambling for a replacement and long-term successor.
Saints Trade Up to Draft Tua Tagovailoa
As many as six quarterbacks are projected to be selected in the first round of this spring’s NFL draft. While LSU Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow is the consensus Number 1, most likely to the Cincinnati Bengals, the other prospects are still up for much debate. Many mock drafts have projected the Saints to draft Utah State’s Jordan Love with the 24th pick of t8he first round.
Alabama’s Tua is one of the top prospects in this year’s draft. A consensus top pick before a dislocated hip ended his season and raised injury red-flags, Tagovailoa is still expected to be a top-five pick because of his special abilities. It would take a significant trade for the Saints to move into position to draft Tagovailoa. Future draft picks would undoubtedly be used, but New Orleans may also need to part with a star of their own to secure a major deal.
Saints Trade Running Back Alvin Kamara
New Orleans will have several difficult contract decisions over the next two offseasons. One of them is the pending negotiations between the front office and star running back Alvin Kamara, who just completed his third season. Kamara, whose contract doesn’t expire until 2021, has openly stated that he wants an extension of his contract this offseason. There is a precedent with the franchise for extending their top players early. The Saints extended the contracts of both wide receiver Michael Thomas and defensive end Cameron Jordan a year ago and seem intent on keeping their young and talented core intact for a run at the Super Bowl.
There is also a recent precedent of the team moving a star player under similar circumstances. In 2015, the Saints traded All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham and rising star Kenny Stills, and in 2017 dealt star wideout Brandin Cooks. Graham had just signed a lucrative deal the year before they dealt him, while Stills and Cooks were seeking big contracts. Kamara had 797 rushing yards and 81 receptions for 533 yards in 2019. Those numbers were slightly down from his first two seasons, but he missed three games with injuries.
Kamara is still a vital part of the New Orleans offense and one of the most versatile weapons in the NFL. The more concerning aspect of Kamara’s production is that he only scored six touchdowns and was not nearly the open field threat he had been previously. Given Kamara’s age (he’ll turn 25 this summer), production, and game-breaking ability, he would net a high return if New Orleans were to deal him and open up salary cap space for other players.
For the record, I don’t believe that any of these things will happen. Brees and Kamara will be back in a Saints uniform in 2020. Although I think the next New Orleans quarterback will come from the draft, it won’t be this spring. Still, Payton and Loomis have shocked us before.