The Falcons Snuck An NFC Shampionship-Inspired Troll Job Into Their 'GoT' Schedule Release, And It's About Damn Time They Made a Funny
When you're so quick to give it, you got to be able to take it. Seeing as the Falcons have, through their unforgettable failures as a franchise, given the Saints and their much more faithful fanbase no choice but to give it, it was theoretically a matter of time before those same fans had to take it. For that reason, I tip my cap to Atlanta's social media team for putting together that clever animation, despite it being a nod to a play that still rips my heart out on...ahem...replay. Like it or not, and I most certainly do not, it's objectively funny.
Now, is it as objectively funny as putting billions of dollars into the building of a mechanical butthole that's perennially half-full and shares a sponsor with the much louder and prouder stadium of your most hated division rival? Good question. Is it as objectively funny as not only having to pipe in artificial crowd noise to your home venue for it to sound like anything remotely close to an NFL atmosphere, but also getting caught doing so? Who's to say? Is it as objectively funny as defying the constraints of time as a construct by blowing a 25-point lead in the second half of the biggest game in your franchise's history while on the brightest stage in sports? It suppose it's all a matter of perspective, but from my perspective the Saints pack far less as a punchline than does the organization that's unsurprisingly much less arrogant and accomplished as an antagonist, especially since having vacated the divisional throne.
Incredible. Simply incredible. I mean, how? Just how? I don't even have the words for the work ethic it must require to...::gathers breath::...continue pulling otherwise asinine tasks out of your ass in hopes of making an athletic alien shed a bead of perspiration.
Honestly, I'm only being half-sarcastic when I say that the most shocking thing about this video was the creativity of the trainer. That's partially because neither my body nor brain is capable of truly comprehending the difficulty of the exercise at hand. However, it's mostly because Alvin Kamara, whether it be on or off the field, has spent the last two years getting Saints' fans way too used to his ability to make near impossible feats of physicality look entirely effortless. The pegs on those projectiles being red and blue is quite fitting, because that is some Matrix shit...if Neo had both swag and his superpowers weren't a product of pill-popping. Yet still, due mostly to desensitization, I was left responding to that video with nothing more than a shoulder shrug that matched what little anxiety Alvin Kamara appeared to be exuding as his ears, eyes, and hands casually coordinated to put forth an otherworldly display of instantaneous telepathy.
I personally didn't need to see this to know that someone who could probably break your balls while balancing himself on a bed of marbles is an absolute freak far beyond this galaxy, never mind a football field. Therefore, I'll treat this clip as a relief knowing his offseason regimen isn't in the idle hands of someone who is going to rest on their laurels and stop going above and beyond the call of duty in the hopeless endeavor to humanize AK's talents. I wish Dr. Reef the best of luck, for he genuinely looks to be working harder than the wonder kid he's allegedly working out.
As if Anyone Needed the Confirmation, Sean Payton Finally Shot Down The Cowboys' Rumors With His Signature Sass
NOLA- The speculation about New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton eventually leaving to coach the Dallas Cowboys seem to be never-ending, but Payton had a funny line when discussing the topic Thursday evening on WWL radio.
“I’ve got fleur-de-lis tattoos that can’t be erased!" Payton said during the interview.
“I’m in my 13th year. I don’t know how to answer it,” he said. “I feel like it’s every other year; it’s on the odd number years, so 2019 it comes up and then we’ll hear it in 2021.”
With regards to staying in New Orleans, Payton said, “That’s clearly the plan.”
Despite being best described as NFL insiders crying wolf, the annual Sean Payton to the Cowboys rumors were never anything more than whispers. Whispers that could be rationalized by circumstance, with the Saints' head coach having a home in Dallas and a relationship with Jerry Jones that predates his tenure in New Orleans, but whispers nonetheless. For that reason, it became increasingly easy for the Who Dat Nation to tune them out as those riding America's bandwagon continue to hopelessly and shamelessly yearn for the day that their organization hires a head coach that can't be walked all over from an owners' suite.
Still, if only due to the lack of a defiant dismissal from the one man most likely to open up and offer one, there was a small seed of doubt left untended to in the back of the mind of Saints' fans.
Thankfully, Sean Payton finally put all his weight into the heel of his work boot and squashed that seed to smithereens. Speaking to the city of New Orleans and the Saints' organization being woven into the fabric of who he is as a person and a professional is the type of classic quotable that's always ingratiated him to fans and gotten under the skin of his haters (of which are there are many). Granted, it could have went without saying, for as much as he's been eternally influenced by the local culture, he's also pretty clearly put the stamp of his own petty personality on the team that serves as its heartbeat. Still, it was refreshing to learn of him boldly saying so in a way that only he would.
Now more so than even the unforgettable honeymoon period, the relationship between Sean Payton, New Orleans, and the Saints is a symbiotic one. Due to the nature of the business, plans change and it'll inevitably come to an end at some point. However, if that point wasn't when the franchise stuck by his side throughout a season-long suspension or during the demoralizing deja vu of 7-9 seasons then it sure as shit isn't anywhere in a near future of which he can prove his brilliance beyond Drew Brees with the young, talented roster he put together.
Luckily, you no longer have to take my word for it, as the ink has long dried on tattoos that, be they literal or figurative, speak for themselves.
As someone who, unless otherwise instigated, plans to treat the rule change that Sean Payton coerced out of the NFL as an opportunity to start moving on from the most obvious and impactful of officiating gaffs, I'd really like to start the process of forgetting what was readily seen by everyone with better than 20/100 vision as an abortion of integrity.
That being said, seeing as that process will literally never completely end, just as the NFL will never be fully forgiven, I'm all for the occasional call back to the league's buffoonery. It's probably best for the future of the Saints' franchise if the parading around in pettiness portion of New Orleans' party-centric mourning period has reached its sobering conclusion. Subtle reminders that revenge is still very much due, however, will be eternally appreciated.
Whether or not that spite be cleverly scripted into an attempt to sell more properly fitting button-downs is inconsequential. The longevity of the grudge burning in the collective heart of the Who Dat Nation, on the hand hand, is not.
If you had told me after the Vikings had taken a 14-7 lead primarily by incessantly picking on PJ Williams like a grade school crush that I'd consider it very good news that he signed back with the Saints during the upcoming offseason, I'd have assumed that the rest of the defensive backfield had contracted polio.
Of course, it was no more than a quarter later that he flipped the script on what was, to that point, a substandard season with a game-altering pick six off Kirk Cousins, and it honestly felt like he rarely had to look back - either figuratively or literally - thereafter. Judging strictly off of quantity, PJ Williams was probably the most active playmaker in the Saints' secondary the latter half of the season. That's due in large part to the success teams had targeting him during the former half of the season, but it's a credit to him that he was able to shed the label of liability in the only locker room that matters.
In manning a slot that was quickly left vacant by the unfortunate, season-ending injury to one of New Orleans' biggest free agency acquisitions, PJ Williams really came into his own as nickel corner when the Saints added Eli Apple on the outside. The hope is that his job goes back to a healthy Patrick Robinson for more than a week and a half, but you could certainly find less reliable one-year insurance policies than the player who was the most trusted tackler they had in coverage last season.
There's no way to really know, I suppose, but if I had to guess then I'd say PJ Williams' dumbass decision to drive after drinking away his NFC Championship sorrows probably cost him more lucrative and long-term opportunities elsewhere. Selfishly, I'm glad that's a lesson he'll have to humbly learn in the black & gold, as he gives depth, versatility, and some pop to a defense that's but a few seasons removed from being all too familiar with scouring the streets for injury replacements to the most exposable position on the roster.
Sean Payton Has Some Thoughts On The NFL's Recent Coaching Trend Of Trying To Hire A Bunch Of Cut-Rate Versions Of Himself
So, what you're saying is that Sean Payton doesn't believe that coaches who can lead, motivate, and call plays in serving as an extra set of all-knowing eyes for their quarterback at the highest level of football can be plucked ripe from the Sean McVay coaching tree in just two years time? Weird. Why would he find the notion that young and innovative offensive minds that are instinctually well-versed in the managerial aspects of coaching while being ahead of their time systematically are a dime-a-dozen during any given offseason to be patently ridiculous? Can't quite put my finger on it....
In all seriousness, there is just a hint of bias showing in that answer, as Sean Payton would have been football's flavor of the year long before Sean McVay had he teamed up with Drew Brees and quickly turned around the Saints' fortunes while rocking a handsomely kempt beard during the social media boom. While (attempted) imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, no one wants to believe that what they do best can be even remotely replicated by a bunch of guys whose resumes might as well read "right place, right time, right theory", much less someone who is second to only the most accomplished coach in NFL history in length of tenure. Therefore, Sean Payton should be flashing that infamously spiteful smirk in talking down in the direction of a bunch of stereotype hires. Not only because he's earned the right, but also because he did what some of them objectively did not in earning the hell out of the high-profile, pressure-packed job he's managed to hold onto for the last 12 years.
The truth of the matter is that he's exactly right. Much like Sean McVay, Sean Payton is of a rare breed that doesn't simply repopulate through interactional and intellectual osmosis. I get that the NFL is a copycat league, but how many of those copycats end up being passable clones as opposed to the type of unsightly genetic mutations that serve as short-lived proof that cloning is actually really fucking hard? There are so few quality head coaches with staying power that stick in the NFL, so thinking that they can all be found in the same list of contacts requires a semester-long nap through Statistics 101.
Now granted, if I were looking to fill a sideline vacancy, I too might find myself swoon by a young, handsome fella who has a play sheet that looks like a diner menu and has the uncanny ability to flirtatiously drop an 'RPO' reference, but that's because I'm a simple-minded moron that can't look past points. Presumably, the people in charge of employing the highest levels of multi-billion dollar organizations are not, so - when they are inevitably replacing a bunch of flameouts in the near future - they'd probably be wise to keep in mind that off-the-field lesson from Sean Payton before he teaches them another one on-the-field.
Sean Payton Was Frustrated With How Things Went Down With Mark Ingram, Which Brings A Little Clarity To A "Cloudy" Situation
Suits, you just can't trust them. That's what I have come to take away from the split between the Saints and one of their most beloved and consummate leaders, as everything that's been made public regarding Mark Ingram's free agency leads me to believe it was botched by a third party not named the Baltimore Ravens. Considering the amount of up-to-the-minute communication that he, himself said he had with his now former teammates throughout the process, it makes little to no sense for #22 to have, more or less, ghosted his now former head coach unless it was a directive from his representation. Therefore, I'll go to the grave believing that the Saints would have met Mark Ingram in the middle if his agent didn't lose his mind...just a little.
It still sucks something serious to know that such a familiar and galvanizing face won't be wearing the black & gold alongside Alvin Kamara next year, but it does slightly ease the pain to know that even Sean Payton was feeling the frustration. The Saints didn't wait because they were given no indication they should wait from the person they would have been waiting on. They simply did what they could not get stood up by someone who was presumably instructed to play hard to get while ignoring the status of the grass in seeing if the money was greener elsewhere, which was settle.
I don't blame Mark Ingram for trying to maximize one last big pay day that he undoubtedly deserved. I'm just upset that his proverbial GPS malfunctioned while looking for it, as it allegedly took him too long without talking to get to the reasonable price and term he eventually accepted anyway. Just another reinforcement of the belief that this entirely unnecessary breakup was merely a product of circumstance, except this time with Mark Ingram's management assuming the nickname 'Circumstance'.
Due In Part To The Masterful Motivational Skills Of Sean Payton, The Saints Got Their Rule Change...And A Very, Very Slight Sense Of Closure
Thirty-one other inherently self-serving NFL head coaches. Thirty stubborn and oft-unrelatable NFL owners, with the only exception being that of a Bengals' organization that would be one step away from relegation if professional football were ever to enforce such a practice. One imbecile of an NFL commissioner, who'd rather beat off to his bank account than agree to make any sort of sizable changes to the league that keeps it fluidly flush at all times.
That concludes the list of powerful people who Sean Payton convinced to indirectly admit that his team suffered such an outrageous and inexcusable injustice that something absolutely had to be done to prevent the league from enduring such an unsightly black eye in the future...
Saints' fans and/or players are still far too cynical for even one to believe that this "win" comes even remotely close to making up for the harrowing and heart-wrenching loss that necessitated it. Be prepared to continue telling New Orleans as a collective to get over it, because this hardly signals the end of their spiteful grudge. However, it's tough to think about how unbelievably unlikely it is to get almost the entirety of the NFL's billion-dollar brain trust to agree on anything that doesn't have a dollar sign attached, as well as look at that warm embrace between Sean Payton and Gayle Benson, and not come to the conclusion that this is an accomplishment - albeit a bittersweet one - for those heavily invested in the franchise.
Now, this rule change is hardly a cure-all for negligent, cowardly, and flat-out piss poor officiating. You don't exactly need a telescope to foresee the stars of stupidity aligning in such a way that controversial pass interference calls, or lack thereof, endure the forever frustrating "what exactly is a catch?" treatment. That said, with the NFL's principled refusal to put any one of their many zeros worth of income towards the outcome of full-time referees whose jobs are actually dependent on identifying the blatantly obvious free from the game-situation during which it occurs, this is about the best anyone could hope for in terms of change.
Perhaps whatever impassioned speech Sean Payton gave in swaying the unforgiving audience in a room that's resistant to change to damn near unanimity should be made public so that everyone feels the same about the NFL's rare attempted fix to something that actually affects the integrity of football. This wasn't about retroactively righting one disgraceful and dishonorable wrong, as the Who Dat Nation will gladly be demeaningly loud and obnoxiously proud in letting you know that will always and forever be an impossibility. This was about making more fair a product that impacts the fickle job security of thousands, even if that is an on-going and imperfect process.
Root for the New Orleans Saints to ironically be on the wrong side of a rule their head coach was adamantly ingenious in having altered all you want, but don't say his head wasn't in the same place as his heart in doing so.
After A Lengthy Flirtation Period, Jared Cook And The New Orleans Saints Have (Basically) Officially Gotten Into Bed With One Another
With the slow and steady way things have gone since the Saints actively started courting Jared Cook, I suppose Sean Payton's mildly non-comittal "understanding" that the premier tight end on the market has joined one of the offenses most likely to maximize his talents is the best we could have hoped in terms of an official announcement. In fact, the coyness of it is actually quite fitting of what's felt like a sitcom-esque inevitable relationship, in which the New England Patriots played the cameo role of the attractive suitor that ultimately ends up making the two parties realize exactly what they've seen in each other all this time. Of course, what really took so long was really the master class in cap economics that Mickey Loomis was undoubtedly putting on for Jared Cook and his agent. However, it was still reassuring to hear that not even a call from a Super Bowl champion with a first ballot HOF-sized opportunity available could get him to change courses before the final drop date.
As for how Jared Cook fits into a Sean Payton offense that's never met a mismatch it wasn't overly anxious to exploit, I can't help but feel like I'm a bit late to the game in realizing how perfect it has the potential to be. I don't know if I underrated his athleticism due to the sheer incompetence of Jeff Fisher's Rams, or the inability of Aaron Rodgers-led offenses to get the most out of the tight end position, or the irrelevance of the Oakland Raiders, but what Jared Cook lacks in career consistency was more than made for by his versatility the last two seasons.
It might be premature to think of him as much more than a rich man's Coby Fleener. Still, with the way he's able to exploit the seam, execute double moves, and use his size and speed to his advantage, you can definitely envision a reason to believe he could provide the production of a poor man's Jimmy Graham plus the occasional block or two. Especially in a Saints' system that's become more reliant on intermediate routes as their quarterback's accuracy has aged more gracefully than his arm strength. Now more so than ever before, Drew Brees needs to work with hand-in-hand with the scheme around him and there's nothing Sean Payton loves to do more than find ways to make the most of unique offensive skill sets. What's undeniable is that Jared Cook absolutely has one of those and it happens to match what the Saints have been missing at the flex tight end position for awhile now.
If what's being reported is at all accurate then the only risk that comes with investing in a 31 year old player who is reliant on his athleticism has been minimized by a short deal that's front loaded in guaranteed money and backloaded in roster flexibility. Therefore, until further notice, there really isn't anything to dislike about an addition that helps open up an offense that probably wouldn't have needed to leave their fate in the blind eyes of officials if they had another prominent and experienced pass catcher available to them during the postseason. At least in theory, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and Jared Cook should all make each other more efficient, and they were are all pretty damn effective in their own right as is.
It Didn't Take Long For The Saints To "Center" Themselves, As They Already Filled The Spot Vacated By Max Unger In Signing Former Viking Nick Easton
The good news is that, between the quickness with which they solidified an timely weakness and Sean Payton's retrospectively suspicious identification of interior offensive line as an offseason need, it can be inferred that the New Orleans Saints weren't anywhere near as taken aback by the otherwise out-of-nowhere retirement of Max Unger as their fans were...
The bad news is that Nick Easton wasn't on the level of his predecessor prior to spending an entire season recovering from neck surgery, when he was being switched between guard and center, and thus probably isn't worth a cap hit comparable to the one that was just taken off their books.
All in all, it's a moral(e ) victory to be able to bounce back from such an impactful loss of talent so quickly, but it's still a decided overall loss with how much trustworthiness and leadership are leaving the building. The Saints also emptied out their change purse to keep Cameron Tom within the organization, so having two players with the potential to fill Max Unger's immovable shoes is a hell of a lot better than getting caught with their pants completely down. That said, as tends to be the case when perennial Pro Bowl caliber protectors call it quits, there's undoubtedly more skepticism regarding the Saints' offensive line now than there was on Saturday morning.
Nick Easton came undrafted out of Harvard, which - as evidenced by the immortal career of Ryan Fitzpatrick - buys him the assumption of on-field intelligence. I'm not so sure that says anything about him being able to keep Drew Brees' jersey clean, but it's at least something Saints' fans can use to sell themselves on his ability to start in the oft-pressured middle of a line in which knowledge is almost as good as power. The quarterback he'll be playing in front of has a tendency to make lineman look better with his pocket presence, but - for the time being - we'll stick with labeling the Saints' reconstructed situation over center as "could be better, could be worse". That's not all that awful considering the caliber of player and person they were left trying to replace.
Max Unger Is Surprisingly Sailing Off Into The Sunset, Concluding What Was A Smoother Ride Than The Saints Could Have Possibly Hoped For
It would be a huge disservice to the decade of dominant service Max Unger put in as the head of security at the oft-rushed gates to the thrones of the most notorious of vertically challenged quarterbacks to start off by talking about what the loss of Max Unger means to the immediate future of the Saints. The totality of his career is more than deserving of quite a few characters before tossing his name from the depth chart and flipping the script to the next chapter of the Saints' interior offensive line.
After all, we're talking about a guy that was so consistent in solidifying one of the only positions in which success can be measured by anonymity that he turned the most unforgettable of majorly forgettable first round busts, in Stephone Anthony, into a minor mistake. Meanwhile, his impact was larger than that of the infamous matchup nightmare he was, in retrospect, basically traded straight up for. You aren't supposed to be able to get rid of otherworldly weapons the likes of Jimmy Graham and live to tell the tale, never mind ultimately thrive in doing so, and I think it's fair to say that deal was made to look better and better with each passing day. That's no small feat for a center. Drew Brees executes his most surgically precise dissections from a clean pocket, and he was hardly ever done dirty with Max Unger snapping him the ball. The importance of that can't be overstated with how key the offensive line, by way of run and pass blocking, was to the Saints' resurgence the last two seasons.
I don't know that his retirement can be seen as entirely unexpected, as he's been successfully stonewalling 300+ pound physical freaks of nature for a full decade, but it certainly wasn't something that was foreseen outside the closed doors of the organization. Needless to say, it's an unpleasant surprise, as his largely penalty and pressure-free tenure in New Orleans was more pleasant than anyone could have imagined when it started. Hats off to him for being put in the precarious position of making up for the absence of someone who was larger than life in the Saints' offense....and, more importantly, succeeding.
In an expedited form and fashion that hardly allowed for the collective breath of the Who Dat Nation to be bated, the hole left on the line by the final farewell of a Pro Bowl caliber talent has already been filled, albeit in a way that makes for less stable grounds. However, it's not as much the loss of Max Unger's talent as it is the loss of his leadership and his fit in a locker room with boat loads of unfinished business that concerns me. The Saints were seemingly constructed perfectly last year, so every non-returning piece feels like one painstakingly pulled from an untouched Jenga tower. That's almost certainly an overreaction, but - no matter how good Nick Easton or Cameron Tom end up being - Max Unger's retirement definitely hurts the continuity of a roster that holds both a special and spiteful place in the heart of Saints' fans. He's earned every ounce of the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of his unforgiving labor, but he will be missed by the team for which he was somehow as durable as he was dependable in his captaincy.
The Ultimate Backfield Bromance Has Been Broken Up, Though The Bond Between Mark Ingram And Alvin Kamara Will Never Die
This feels wrong. It just does. Even the greatest of things come to an end, especially in a business as cutthroat as professional sports, but you simply can't convince me that one of the coolest and most captivating running back tandems of all time didn't meet it's demise prematurely. It was always going to suck when I no longer had their shared postgame interviews to look forward to. However, being of the half-educated belief that if free agency was simulated 100 times over that 99 of those times would lead to Mark Ingram spending approximately the next three years seamlessly playing off Alvin Kamara, both on and off the field, makes this split suck harder than the most disconcerting of pornographic images.
Considering the context clues - be it the timing of his replacement, the rumored demands of an agent who was playing hardball, or the more than manageable discrepancy between what he eventually got from the Baltimore and what he was offered by New Orleans - I just can't shake the feeling that this officially disproves the idiotic notion that everything happens for a reason. Mark Ingram is supposed to be a Saint, making the fact that he no longer is that much harder to digest...
At the end of the day, it's impossible not to behold the beauty of a bond that was forged so fluidly that it got one of the all-time greats at their position shipped out of town in no more than a few weeks time. Mark Ingram welcomed the emergence of Alvin Kamara with both figurative and literal open arms, as the two instantaneously became brothers/best friends while in the process of becoming record-setting backfield mates. That friendship obviously isn't fleeting, but what had become a charming, bi-weekly look into it sure is.
The culture in New Orleans can't be attributed to one man, but Mark Ingram was definitely a leader to what became a selfless and cohesive locker room in what he did for Alvin Kamara, as well as what he allowed Alvin Kamara to do for him. I'm near certain the Saints will be fine in leaning on Latavius Murray to help lighten a heavier load for one of the most dynamic and versatile playmakers in football. However, what the ladder has with the guy that the former is replacing is so much more special than 'fine'. Therefore, it's going to take a while before I feel fine about no longer having a first hand look at the deeeetails of boom and zoom buddying up on or around the football field, because almost everything about the situation, other than its result, tells me the opportunity for them to do so beat overwhelming odds in being missed.
If you don't know what he's referring to then you don't deserve to, but in the interest of full disclosure...
And all the sudden, after approximately 24 hours of unforeseen uncertainty, a deal that was once thought to be imminent now appears to be signed, sealed, and delivered in a legendary fashion that makes a day's worth of anxiety a small price to pay. Learning of this news by scrolling across that tweet on my timeline legitimately got me excited for the Teddy Bridgewater era in New Orleans, as if...::knocks on wood::...it's not at least one season of Super Bowl contention away from coming to fruition.
To be honest, it's almost impossible to view what is basically just a one-year signing of an insurance policy who still has a lot to prove in a rational context. This is a case of Teddy Bridgewater blatantly pandering to Saints' fans on the anniversary of the most impactful day in franchise history, and - in doing so - drawing all the parallels that every last member of the Who Dat Nation has probably already pondered a dozen times over. A 32nd overall pick and former starting quarterback in his late 20's overcoming a career threatening injury, receiving a skeptical reception from the Miami Dolphins while on the open market, and choosing to put the fate of his future in the hands of Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints? Teddy obviously isn't remotely close to Drew, but I'll be damned if the former didn't just paint a picture worthy of its own street-side mural of him walking in the latter's impossible-to-fully-fill shoes.
Of course, the date of Drew Brees' swan song has yet to be scheduled, so we could very well be having the same discussion next offseason, but that's not the point. The point is that the Saints took a calculated risk in trusting that their culture could make it pay off, and it did in a big way with Teddy Bridgewater having enough faith in and fondness for a franchise with whom he spent only a few months to spurn a starting gig. You don't turn down a bird in the hand for two in the bush if you don't love being a Saint, and you don't make a mention of the fatefully familiar set of circumstances that brought Drew Brees to New Orleans exactly 13 years ago without having some intention of putting your own personal spin on a sequel of sorts.
This decision speaks volumes of both the foundation and the collective personality that's been put in place in New Orleans. We'll see what the future holds, but you simply can't read that tweet from Teddy Bridgewater (and read into the good will of his $7.25 million being fully guaranteed) and figure it anything other than unbelievably bright until proven otherwise.
As Is Tradition, Mickey Loomis Did Some Magic Math In Restructuring Drew Brees' Contract, Only To Follow It Up By Inking Malcom Brown To Solidify The D-Line
First and foremost, whew. Not that it's as much of an actual relief as it is a fiscal relief that the Saints are setting themselves up to burn a whole hell of a lot of dead money in tribute to the illustrious career of Drew Brees for years after it ends. but rather that the re-re-re-re-restructuring of his deal is what's come to signify that the offseason has been turned on. Like the lighting of the torch at the Olympics, news that Drew Brees' cap hit has been tinkered with in giving a middle finger to the future of the franchise should be the first to break as the unofficial opening ceremony to free agency. Loomis math is a tradition like no other, so it's nice to see that Mickey has finished working his magic in mixing up a bunch of numbers in a pot and somehow cooking up some inconspicuous cap space.
Now, the first allocation of said cap space isn't the one that's going to work the Who Dat Nation into a frenzy, as Malcom Brown is neither built to catch passes over the middle or succeed HOF quarterbacks, but it's one that was necessary nonetheless. With Sheldon Rankins starting next season in recovery, David Onyemata awaiting his punishment for prescribing himself herbal remedies internationally, and Tyeler Davison treading water in the free agency pool, there was a hole in the trenches. Something tells me a 320 pound former first round pick is just the type of person to fill it.
Depth up and down the defensive line was one of the pleasant surprises of last season, so it's good to see it addressed in a fiscally fair form and fashion headed into next season. Expecting first round production would be a fool's errand, but the Saints aren't paying for that as much as they are paying for a slight upgrade who gives them starting experience at nose tackle and allows for the potential of Taylor Stallworth to come along slowly as part of the rotation. You can even tack on the added bonus of him going from one team that knows how to develop d-lineman to another team that's suddenly become great at developing d-lineman. Either way, it's tough to find flaw in the move. You know, so long as you don't hold it against Malcom Brown that his name is neither Jared Cook or Teddy Bridgewater.
Wil Lutz Contract Now Matches The Level Of Comfort He Provides, As He Has Signed A Massive Extension With The Saints
I don't know if you can truly put a price on having the opportunity to breath easy with an unclenched sphincter every time the fate of a game is planted firmly on the foot of your kicker. However, after having suffered through what felt like a decade of the Saints hosting season-long tryouts in hopes of finding a mildly loyal leg, I'm willing to definitively say that price would even be higher than the market-setting extension that Wil Lutz just signed.
In the last three seasons alone, the guy who was presumed to be just another inevitably forgotten name on a long list of fickle feet probably added that many years and more to my life span with how consistent and confident he's been in spots big and small. A lot has changed since 7-9 was a way of life in New Orleans, and perhaps the most underrated of those changes is being able to damn near guarantee at least an automatic three points within the opponent's 35 yard line. It's probably better left unsaid that the Saints have found some fucked up ways to lose games over the years, but not having to worry about the polarizing practice of placekicking and all its moving parts has really helped to dull the feeling of impending doom.
Simply put, Wil Lutz has been nothing short of money since Sean Payton, by a painstaking process of elimination, finally pinned the tail on an absolute donkey of a kicker, so it's about time his salary matched his success rate. Especially since it stays with the trend of compensating and keeping in tact one of the best and most tight-knit special teams units in the NFL. Don't even act like you can't feel the love...
The Internal Screams Of Saints' Fans Can Be Heard From Space, As Mark Ingram Just Signed With The Ravens For A Repulsively Fair Price
Half a million dollars per season. That's it. That's all.
There was one thing capable of putting out the fire that was sparked in Saints' fans when they indirectly learned of a beloved, long-time team leader having already worn the Fleur-de-lis for the final time. That thing was an absolute albatross of a contract would allow everyone to be happy that Mark Ingram finally secured his long-overdue bag, as well as glad that the cap-strapped team with which he grew from a scapegoat to a galvanizing force - both on and off the field - didn't meet the contractual demands of a 29 year old running back. Twenty-one million over three years, or something north of it, and I'd be able to stomach the idea of Latavius Murray taking over the reigns that he'll never be able to pull as prominently as the player he's replacing. Instead, an integral piece of a Super Bowl caliber team has a new home due to a breakup over the monetary equivalent of trivial matters. Half a million dollars per season. That was ultimately the disparity, as if the thought of Mark Ingram in colors other than black & gold hadn't already made me sick enough.
There's fingers to be pointed everywhere. At the Saints for not being more patient. At Mark Ingram's agent for being too greedy. At the entire concept of free agency, during which time is of the essence and markets can be so easily misread. Much like those that take sides after a divorce, I want to be able to lay all the blame on one person, but the truth is that marriages don't end without regrettable mistakes being made by both parties.
Knowing what they know now, I have the sneaking suspicion that both the New Orleans Saints and someone that embodies absolutely everything that they currently stand for would have been more than happy to extend their relationship by another three years for the more than fair price of fifteen million. If they could turn back time, I'm near certain they could have found a way to work things out.
What makes this change so painful isn't that it happened as much as how it happened appearing to be entirely avoidable. All else being so damn close to equal, New Orleans would rather have Mark Ingram and Mark Ingram would rather be in NOLA. There's very little doubt in mind that that's the case, just as there is very little doubt in mind that neither feels great about the results in the immediate wake of their business decisions. To consider each other 'the one that got away' might be a bit overdramatic, but I presume you'd be hard pressed to find a player in that locker room - from Alvin Kamara to Cameron Jordan and everyone in between - that isn't heartbroken by the absence of what was an unmistakable part of its soul. Especially now that said absence has proved completely unnecessary. Mark Ingram overplayed his hand, the Saints folded theirs too soon, and both are going to need to work on their poker face if their disappointment is anywhere near as palpable as that of the fans.
There's a couple of reasons that I'm not going to wax poetic about Dez Bryant's fit in the Saints' offense. For starters, it seems like a bad omen to do so after the last time a sense of unbridled optimism accompanied his addition it took all of a couple practice routes run before the sobering subtraction of his functioning achilles.
In line with that, while time might heal all, Father Time has a way of making the recovery period from a devastating injury that much more extensive. Especially for a 30 year old player who was highly reliant on his athleticism before spending a full year out of professional football doing nothing more than watching and recuperating. The truth is that no one knows anything close to the truth about what Dez Bryant can still bring to the gridiron, so it's tough to opine on the entirely unknown.
That being said, as a low risk/higher reward signing, I can't see why the Saints wouldn't be interested in giving another shot to someone who has plenty to prove by adding him to a locker room that seemed to embrace him immediately. Banking on him as their premier pick-up at a prioritized position would be about as safe and sound as saving money under a mattress, but Dez Bryant makes plenty of sense as another fish in a pool of potential playmakers being given an opportunity to make a splash behind Michael Thomas.
While I think he got a bit of a raw deal towards the end of his tenure in Dallas, I can't imagine he sees himself as worthy of much more than the low price of a one year, prove it contract. If that's all it takes then I'd be glad to see him get the chance to finally start throwing up some X's in NOLA, as opposed to having them thrown up in his honor.
The Saints Have Signed Latavius Murray To A 4-Year(?!?) Deal, And Struck The Clock Midnight On Mark Ingram's Time In New Orleans
I'm going to say something that I haven't said about a Saints' personnel decision in quite some time, and that's that this signing, and more importantly it's implications, makes me want put down my lunch and throw up my breakfast. As someone who has always thought of Latavius Murray as a replacement-level running back, finding out by way of his shocking long-term signing that one of the faces of the franchise is about to grow unfamiliar makes me sick. I honestly don't know how absurdly pricey Mark Ingram's impending deal would have to be to settle my stomach and allow me to sleep tonight, because the Saints just gave a four-year contract to an average player of the same damn age with lesser production, lesser pedigree, and lesser personality. There's no way around it, regardless of whether or not they found themselves a better deal, the Saints just got worse by losing a versatile player on the field and a consummate leader off the field.
Of course, there's an emotional toll to be paid here, as Mark Ingram eventually won over a fanbase that he suffered right alongside during the recurring nightmare of 7-9 seasons. By coming out the other side and showing himself a selfless half of one of the most dynamic and delightful running back tandems in NFL history, the franchise leader in rushing touchdowns has ingratiated himself to the Who Dat Nation forever. That's something you couldn't imagine saying while he fought through some early struggles at the start of his career, which is a testament to his perseverance as the rare running back that gets substantially better with age. Mark Ingram was one of very few to survive the entirety of the rebuild, and in doing so became a main co-signee of the incredible culture shift in New Orleans.
That obviously makes the news of #22 throwing up the deuces that much more difficult to deal with, but this even reeks of being bad from a business perspective. There's just no world in which I can envision Latavius Murray being anything more than a B-level backup to Alvin Kamara, as opposed to a BFF of a complimentary running mate, well into his 30's. That's what the Saints just banked on, and - even if it required a lesser investment - it certainly has the potential to prove more costly both in their backfield and in their locker room.
This move reads like a desperate overreaction to negotiations that didn't go as smoothly as they hoped, and if they were going to get desperate I'd have preferred they instead lined the pockets of a more proven commodity and a beloved teammate who earned the opportunity to be part of another Super Bowl run. I would have understood moving on from Mark Ingram if it didn't mean going in the exact same direction but slower with his downgrade of a replacement. For that reason, I think they should have heeded the advice of deuce-deuce and taken a "look at the deeeeetails" that made him more than deserving of a raise and made his value to the Saints higher than just half a million more than that of Latavius Murray.
Although, most certainly not remotely close to this high...
It Sure Sounds Like Teddy Bridgewater Is Leaving Some Money And A Starting Opportunity On The Table To Return To The Best Locker Room In The League
I'm going to go ahead and run the risk of speaking too soon, being that there is a big difference between being expected to re-sign and actually re-signing, because this news doesn't surprise me as much as it probably should. That could be a product of my Saints' bias, combined with a laughable lack of belief in the teams that instead chose to recycle the painfully average passers they know (Joe Flacco, Case Keenum, etc.) rather than take a chance on the ceiling of a relative unknown, but the truth is that Teddy Bridgewater's best chance to succeed was always as Drew Brees' successor. The inevitable allure of more money and the immediate opportunity to start can't be undersold, but neither can the ease with which an insurance policy of a back-up quarterback danced his way into the hearts of a winning locker room despite playing a grand total of zero meaningful snaps as a part of it.
There obviously wouldn't have been any hard feelings if he chose to kickstart a career that was put on hold by a horrific knee injury, but it speaks to the culture in New Orleans that Teddy Two Gloves didn't already have one foot out the door. This premature news makes the Saints' front office look like geniuses for flipping merely a third round pick for what could potentially end up being long-term stability at the position in which it's the hardest to attain, but it's really a feather in the cap of the players for creating such quality cohesiveness both on and off the field.
It was safe to assume the business of Teddy Bridgewater was better left entrusted with someone like Sean Payton who can maximize his talents, but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush when it comes to making your presence felt in a league as unforgiving to it's oft-forgotten athletes as the NFL. Whether it be more of a credit to the completeness of their roster or the unity of their front, the Saints reportedly amended that Bird Law by reportedly convincing a quality quarterback to wait out a black & golden opportunity. That's far easier said than done when considering how quickly earning windows close and opportunity costs plummet in professional football. Even if there is a suspicious amount of symmetry between Teddy Bridgewater's career path and that of someone who is Canton-bound after overcoming a career-threatening injury, slipping through the Dolphins' finger tips, and breaking every record in the book after being given the reigns as the franchise quarterback to a formidable offense in his mid-to-late 20's.
Can't Guard Mike...From His Phone During Mardi Gras, And Cam Jordan Joined In With Some Social Media Shenanigans Of His Own
I'm not going to put to much thought into these tweets. After all, judging by both the frequency of the timestamps and the fact that their curator was coming off his birthday weekend in spending last night and this morning slowly riding around a city that's in an alcohol-induced hysteria, I can't imagine all that much clear thought was put into publishing them (hence the deletion of some).
That being said, without pouring the proverbial drinks down Michael Thomas' throat, I love that all signs point to his version of "drunk words are sober thoughts" being related entirely to dominating the National Football League. I expected nothing less than for his competitive overdrive to be in 5th gear at all times, and him being unable to relax and enjoy Fat Tuesday without giving the rest of the league the skinny on the Saints' plans for reckoning is perfectly fitting of his personality. Michael Thomas has a one track mind, and that track just so happens to run clean over every single person that's either doubted him or lined up across from him. That couldn't be made more clear than him being unable to be guarded from his phone and serving as the eye of a tweet-storm during an otherwise upbeat event like Mardi Gras.
Ruthless. Absolutely ruthless. Perhaps not as ruthless as nicknaming an opposing left tackle after a mild vehicular inconvenience...
...but celebrating the extended contract of a familiar foe and blatantly using it as recruitment tool for your own impending free agents before the ink has even dried on it is pretty close to as cutthroat. Cam Jordan doesn't quite have a Michael Thomas-level of vindictiveness in his veins, but you can see Cam Newton's wine rack as proof that he's certainly not one to mince words that reference division rivals. Hopefully Alex Okafor returns, but the Buccaneers are going to need to do a lot more than cross their fingers if they don't want Marcus Davenport or whoever lines up opposite Cam Jordan to sack an investment that the Saints' resident stock breaker has determined to be no more valuable than leftovers. He might as well speak for all Saints' fans, so tell 'em Thomas...