With a projected $30 million in available salary cap space, the New Orleans Saints want to be aggressive in free agency when the league’s calendar year kicks off on March 9.
And if there is a position to target, cornerback is likely on the table when considering the Saints come off a season ranked last in the league against the pass, allowing 273.8 yards per game.
Injuries, of course, played a major role.
Delvin Breaux missed six games while recovering from a broken fibula before landing on injured reserve with a shoulder injury; P.J. Williams was placed on injured reserve with a concussion; Damian Swann landed on injured reserve before the start of the regular season; and rookie Ken Crawley suffered a knee injury in the final week of the regular season.
The Saints signed veteran cornerbacks Sterling Moore and B.W. Webb to one-year deals early in the regular season, and then made the most with that they had on the roster.
Breaux, Williams, Swann and Crawley remain under contract. The Saints, however, should bolster competition at a position group that has ranked at or near the bottom of the league against the pass in two straight seasons.
New Orleans has two opportunities to address cornerback in the coming months via free agency and the NFL Draft in late April, as coach Sean Payton pointed out during a Tuesday morning guest spot on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
“I think, look, corner is a position that’s going to be important for us,” Payton told SiriusXM Blitz hosts Bruce Murray and Brady Quinn. “We feel the draft is deep in a few spots. Corner is one, we feel it’s deep at safety, it’s deep at running back.
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The New Orleans Saints don’t have to force it yet.
Eventually they will have to replace quarterback Drew Brees, who turned 38 in January. But he isn’t really acting his age yet. Brees played his best football in five years last season, once again leading the NFL with 5,208 passing yards. And he has talked many times about his determination to keep thriving into his 40s.
However, Brees has only one year remaining on his contract — which is how the Saints wanted it. Brees wanted a long-term extension last year, but the Saints preferred to evaluate the position year-by-year.
In other words, if the Saints fall head over heels for a QB in Round 1 of this year’s draft — such as Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky or Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer — the transition could come sooner than expected.
If not, the position is still in awfully good hands for the time being.
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A key part of being a New Orleans Saints fan is having a certain level of contempt for the Atlanta Falcons.
So, it’s no surprise that an upcoming Saints celebration will also feature something poking fun at the Falcons after they lost Super Bowl 51 to the New England Patriots despite having a 25-point lead.
For the Bacchus parade, the theme is Bacchus Salutes the Saints 50th as the parade comes just a couple months after the team completed its 50th professional season.
Based on a photo gallery on the Saints’ website, the variety of creative floats mostly highlight key moments in franchise history, such as the inception of the team, Steve Gleason’s punt block and the Super Bowl XLIV title. They even have one float with the Big Easy Mafia Logo on it to represent the future of Saints fan clubs.
But, at least one float is aimed at the Saints’ chief rival.
The Falcons, of course, have never won a Super Bowl championship, and they let an amazing opportunity slip away a week ago.
The front of the float shows a falcon atop a pot that says, “Dirty Bird Gumbo.”
Bacchus will march through Uptown on Sunday, Feb. 26, a couple days before Mardi Gras.
Saints running back Mark Ingram spent time this week hunting wild hogs.
Ingram posing with his big trophy didn’t set off Twitter like, say, the dentist who killed Cecil the Lion did a while back. Lions are majestic creatures, the king of the jungle. Hogs are destined to become bacon or pork chops.
There’s been a much more positive response to Ingram’s conquest.
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton thought Jarrius Robertson was a “rock star” before this week, but the 14-year-old Saints Super Fan became even more famous Saturday night.
Along with Payton and Harry Connick Jr., Robertson presented the NFL Comeback Player of the Year to Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson at the NFL Honors Ceremony at Wortham Theater Center.
Robertson is battling biliary atresia, a chronic disease in the liver that limits his growth. He’s had several surgeries already and is awaiting a liver transplant, but nobody would know it with the joy he constantly displays.
“I feel pretty excited because I know all the big stars are going to be here,” he said on the red carpet before the ceremony while walking around with a WWE championship belt given to him by Roman Reigns.
Payton said it was “fantastic” for more people to learn about Robertson’s story Saturday night.
“He already fined me because he and Harry had a secret practice that they didn’t tell me about, so I don’t know my lines,” Payton joked before the event.
Payton said Robertson also fined him because he hasn’t given him his playoff bonuses yet, demanding a Mercedes-Benz and a helicopter.
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If you know anything about sports in Atlanta, then you know just how bad the fan base is down there for every single major sports franchise they have. The Atlanta Hawks, Braves, Thrashers, Falcons, and even the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets all have (or had) a hard time selling out on a consistent basis. Their fan base just plain sucks, no other way to put it.
For the first time since 1999, the Atlanta Falcons have advanced to the Super Bowl, but it doesn’t seem like many fans made the trip with them down to Houston for support.
The team had a scheduled pep rally for the team at 2:00pm, but it was cancelled last minute because of the lack of fans in H-town, What an embarrassment.
The New Orleans Saints are incorporating technology to ensure players are focused on game day.
Making a guest radio appearance on CBS Sports Radio’s “Tiki and Tierney,” Saints coach Sean Payton said Friday that he plans to utilize a device designed to keep players off social media platforms two hours before kickoff.
“It’s just a simple scrambler that avoids the social media element,” Payton said. “That will be in our locker room.”
When hosts Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney pressed Payton on if the implementation of a scrambler in the locker room is league-wide, the Saints coach made it clear who is behind the initiative.
“It’s going to be a Sean Payton thing,” he said.
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The New Orleans Saints will not be returning to the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia for a full training camp.
The Houston Texans are planning to head to the White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, destination for part of their training camp, according to a source, ruling out a return for the Saints.
New Orleans has not decided where training camp will be held yet.
“We’re in the process of making that decision,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said last week at the Senior Bowl. “We haven’t made the decision on where we’re going to be.”
The Houston Chronicle initially broke the news that The Greenbrier would have a new tenant at Super Bowl LI on Wednesday.
The three-year contract New Orleans signed to hold training camp at the Greenbrier expired when the Saints left the resort in August, allowing the Saints to move away from their time spent in West Virginia.
At the time, The Associated Press reported that New Orleans had discussed a two-year extension of the agreement with Greenbrier owner Jim Justice, who was elected West Virginia’s governor in November, but those talks never materialized into a deal.
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(15) New York Giants (MetLife Stadium) – 2014 (WORST)
The overblown worries about a postponed Super Bowl never materialized, but there were other concerns for the first cold-weather championship. The Super Bowl coming to New York (and being played across the Hudson) just wasn’t that big a deal to a city that has so much going on and probably believes the Super Bowl to be inferior to whatever’s happening at the Garden that night. A Super Bowl is supposed to take over a town. In Manhattan, at least, it got as much attention as those creepy Times Square muppets. And then there was the transportation problem. Fans were stuck at MetLife Stadium for hours after the game because NJ Transit and the NFL misjudged the number of people who would be taking public transportation.
(14) San Francisco 49ers (Levi’s Stadium) – 2016
Great city, great stadium, way too far from each other. It’s 75 minutes south from the Golden Gate Bridge to Levi’s Field, a few minutes more than it’d take to go from the bridge north to Napa Valley. Given the current state of the 49ers, spending a Sunday in wine country is probably the best way to ease the pain.
(13) Jacksonville Jaguars (EverBank Stadium) – 2005
NFL owners beg for Super Bowls. They’ll spend billions (or get the government to get the public to spend billions) to build a new stadium so that they have a reason to host the Super Bowl. Jags owner Shad Khan, who wasn’t with the team during its only hosting gig but presumably has ears and heard about everyone bashing the Florida city, is the opposite. He actively doesn’t want a Super Bowl, refreshingly saying about another game coming to town:
“Here in Jacksonville? Absolutely not. What it takes to get a Super Bowl, I think, is setting Jacksonville up for failure. I think with time and money, energy is much better served on something else. For example, what they’re going through in Miami. A big renovation with the Dolphins would be a great venue for a Super Bowl. I’d love to see Florida get Super Bowls, but I think Tampa and Miami are much better suited for that. The requirements now for hotel rooms and some of the other infrastructure amenities — we don’t have here, so let’s not kid ourselves.”
(12) Dallas Cowboys (AT&T Stadium) – 2011
Dallas is basically Los Angeles in Texas, minus the self-righteous Hollywood folk: A great city with plenty to do, none of which is remotely close to each other. Although definitely not Americas team.
(11) Detroit Lions (Ford Field) – 2006
Super Bowl XL is credited with being a “catalyst” that helped create a “surge of development” in downtown Detroit. (Others disagree, but they don’t fit our narrative.) The stadium is close to everything, the airport easily handled the crush of people and the game went off without a hitch
(10) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Raymond Jame Stadium) – 2009
Tampa is a perfectly okay place to have a Super Bowl. The stadium is within the city limits, and the city limits are, uh, perfectly okay.
(9) Minnesota Vikings (Metrodome, U.S. Bank Stadium) – 2018
All the worry about Minnesota snow is overblown. You worry about a little snow in Dallas or Atlanta because those cities aren’t equipped to deal with that. A lot of snow doesn’t affect Minneapolis because clearing it is an art form. What would cripple Washington D.C. would be a mere annoyance in Minnesota. Nobody ever has an unkind word to say about the city, so other than the cold weather what’s not to love? They’re going to build an ice palace next year! Beat that, Glendale.
(8) Arizona Cardinals (University of Phoenix Stadium) – 2015
Glendale ain’t Phoenix, and Phoenix ain’t Los Angeles. Still, the stadium is gorgeous, and Phoenix has been built up over the past few years so suck it up, take the shuttle and thank the football gods you’re not in Minneapolis or Jacksonville.
The 2017 Pro Bowl will take place on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. CST at the Orlando Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
The game will be televised by ESPN.
Jerome Bettis and Ray Lewis will lead the AFC team against Tony Gonzalez and Charles Woodson’s NFC team in the NFL all-star game.
The only New Orleans Saints player to make the Pro Bowl is quarterback Drew Brees, who replaced Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan as he prepares for the Super Bowl.
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Tailgating with a purpose
The Northshore Harbor Center in Slidell helped host the “largest indoor tailgate party on the north shore” at the annual Saints “Fan Up” Pep Rally. The venue was awash in a sea of black and gold, all in tribute to the Saints and in celebration of the upcoming football season.
Tickets to the event included food and beverages, plus an opportunity to win the coveted “Fan Up” package, which included Saints season tickets. The East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce hosted the event, and the sellout crowd proved once again that this is the event to attend if you are a Saints fan and support the Chamber.
Slidell Memorial Hospital, Textron and the city of Slidell were key sponsors, and the giant inflatable Saints football players at the entrance to the ballroom set the tone for the spirited celebration.
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One top prospect at the Senior Bowl has aspirations to be a member of the New Orleans Saints.
Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp – the most prolific receiver in the history of Division I football- said that he was partial to the Saints when asked what team he would like to play for, according to USA Today’s DraftWire.
“After an impressive practice on Tuesday, Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp continued to turn heads on Wednesday, catching everything thrown his way and looking effortless on every snap.
Speaking to the media after practice, Kupp admitted he’s partial to the New Orleans Saints when asked which NFL team he’d like to play for. Kupp’s grandfather, Jake, was a star lineman for the Saints back in the 1960s and 1970s. He was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 1991.
Kupp was one of the most productive pass-catchers in college football history, and played his best when given the rare opportunity to line up against FBS competition.”
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said earlier this month he plans to play out the final year of his contract in 2017, and general manager Mickey Loomis said Tuesday he’d be fine with that possibility.
“Drew’s at that point in his career where for him, I think it’s a, ‘How do I feel?'” Loomis said Tuesday after Senior Bowl practices. “He had a great season, I think he’s planning on having another great season, and then we’ll go from there.”
Brees’ intention to play out his contract is a change in approach from 2016 when he expressed a desire to receive an extension before the regular season began. The Saints extended his deal one year just a few days before the season opener.
As the players cleaned out their lockers the Monday after Week 17, Brees said he didn’t expect to have a similar contract issue to last year.
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Round 1, pick 11: Marshon Lattimore, Cornerback, Ohio State
Lattimore is a long, athletic cornerback with a lot of ability. He is part of a secondary at Ohio State that will be looted by the NFL Draft for the second-straight year, as he joins safety Malik Hooker and fellow corner Gareon Conley as potential first-round picks. Lattimore figures to be one of the top natural cover corners in this draft, with a nose for the ball and the ability to hold up in man-to-man heavy schemes while also possessing the traits to succeed in zone coverage. He is expected to run well at the NFL Combine to go with ideal size and his four interceptions on a defense where it was a competition to get hands on the football show playmaking abilities that teams covet.
Round 2, pick 42: Bucky Hodges, Tight End, Virginia Tech
Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense seems impervious to losing anyone, as they have continually made stars out of pass catchers and turn unknowns into valuable cogs. However, there was something special about Brees and Jimmy Graham at their peaks together. Hodges possesses that big body who Brees could turn into a superstar, and his versatility as a former quarterback gives the offense a lot of options as to where to line him up. Attacking defenses with two serviceable tight ends in addition to their cavalcade of receivers could help Brees remain at an elite level for a few more years.
Round 3, pick 76: Charles Walker, Defensive Line, Oklahoma
Walker had some hype as a player who could go in the top-50 picks before he left Oklahoma midseason to begin preparing for the NFL Draft. This decision could raise questions about his motivations and work ethic among league scouts, but more concerning might be his motor on the field which ran hot and cold at times for the Sooners. However concerning that may be, the Saints could always use additional help along the defensive line even with the emergence of Sheldon Rankins later in the season, and a player with Walker’s upside could go far for a team that is desperately trying to remain in win-now mode with an aging quarterback.
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The NFL announced the dates Friday for the four London games in 2017, including the New Orleans Saints’ matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
The Saints and Dolphins will play at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 1, which would be the Week 4 games for the two teams.
The league previously announced that the Saints would play either Week 3 or 4, but the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars drew the Week 3 slot on Sept. 24.
For the game in London, the Saints are the visiting team while the Dolphins lose one of their eight home games.
This will be the first time New Orleans has played in London since 2008 when the Saints played the Chargers.
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Outside of coordinators, assistant head coach hires in the NFL rarely qualify as splash moves, but one man the New Orleans Saints plan to interview would qualify
The Saints intend to interview Jim Tomsula, the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 2015, for the defensive line coach opening with the Saints, according to a source.
Sporting News reported Friday the Saints interviewed Tomsula earlier this week, but the source said the interview hasn’t yet happened.
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