Commissioner Goodell’s decision to the uphold ban handed t0 head coach Sean Payton for the 2012/13 season, may give the New Orleans Saints the ideal opportunity to build a sustainable Superbowl run at the sacrifice of one season.
As radical as it seems, a strategy of tanking the season is not as outlandish as first thought. Think Indianapolis Colts 2011, all to get Andrew Luck.
The Saints will be without three key coaches until week six of the regular season. Even with a good team, capable of making the playoffs, poor coaching sees them win no more than two of those games. Starting the season 2-4 is never a good sign if the Saints believe they are going to the Superbowl.
Take into account the current roster. Drew Brees is unhappy with contract negotiations and offensive weapons on the receiver front are limited due to age. One of the most important factors to look into is Mark Ingram, whom the Saints sought after so badly, they traded into the late first round to get the former Heisman trophy winner out of Alabama, and first running back selected in the draft. The Saints have high expectations of Ingram who showed glimpses of professional success in his rookie year.
Looking at the key receivers for the Saints, Devery Henderson (30), Marques Colston (28), Lance Moore (28) and Jimmy Graham (25) do not all fit into future deliberations, with Graham the most important of the quartet.
The Drew Brees situation has taken a back seat over these past weeks due to the ongoing bounty saga which has now been put to rest. When asked about his pre-season workout status, Brees was quick to respond, “We’re continuing to work on a long-term deal.”
Uncomfortable with the franchise tag placed on his contract, the Saints and Brees have been unable to come to a long term deal which would see the 33 year old quarterback end his career with the Saints.
Upon revelations of the bounty scandal, Brees was quick to issue a statement, distancing him further from the organisation.
“There is no place in the National Football League, or any sport played at any level, for players to conspire, to be coerced, or to be incentivized to intentionally injure another player,” said Brees.
“I did not participate in any Bounty program, nor did I have any knowledge relating to its real existence.”
Following the devastation’s of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 which destroyed the heart of the city, Brees rescued both the organisation and city in the best possible way, belief. Taking the city on an emotional rollercoaster to eventually lead New Orleans to the 2009 Superbowl, Brees resurrected the city.
At 33 years old, Brees has produced his most statistically productive season, posting 5,476 yards, an NFL record. The Saints however appear unconvinced Brees is worthy of his demands, most likely to be upward of $100 million over five or six years.
Brees opportunity to hold out his franchise tag is looking more and more likely each time “continuing to work on a long-term deal,” is mentioned.
As unethical as it may be to tank a season, poetic justice may just see that happen. Have the Colts lost any fans after their Manningless 2-14 season?
- The Saints and Brees mutually agree to part ways through a trade.
- The Saints land a top five draft pick after a ‘development’ season.
- The Saints draft a franchise quarterback, Matt Barkley or Landry Jones.
- The Saints become legitimate contenders from 2014 onwards.
- The Saints have salary cap space to sign a big free agent receiver.
- Barkley, Ingram, Graham and the free agent form the offence for the next five years.
2011 showed us how one team can turn a big loss into a massive futuristic gain. The Saints are essentially stuck in limbo at the moment. They don’t have their coaches, they are at conflict with their franchise player and they have an emerging running back who the organisation has invested plenty into.
There are many ways for the Saints to ‘win’ without Drew Brees and Sean Payton.