The New Orleans Saints could lose running back Chris Ivory—and would be just fine.
New Orleans hit Ivory with a restricted tender this offseason that he has yet to sign. If he signs, the team would owe him a one-year, $2.023 million contract. If another team elects to sign Ivory to an offer sheet, said team would have give New Orleans a second-round pick.
That team appears to be the New York Jets.
Howard Balzer recently speculated on Twitter that the Jets could give Ivory an offer sheet:
Could offer sheet be coming for Saints RFA RB Chris Ivory? He visited Jets Friday. Compensation would be second-round pick.
— Howard Balzer (@HBalzer721) April 13, 2013
Larry Holder of NOLA.com confirmed Ivory visited the Jets. The move makes sense for New York, a team desperately in need of a feature back. If and when the Jets ship corner Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York should be getting a high pick back in return.
For New York, this means giving up the No. 39 overall pick in the draft for a back like Ivory to feature with recently-signed Mike Goodson would give the team a solid one-two punch for years to come.
The move also makes a lot of sense for New Orleans.
Ivory is but one of four running backs on the roster right now. He’s last behind Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas. Make no mistake, Ivory is an extremely talented runner, but he cannot stay healthy and has had fumble issues in his brief playing time with the team so far. Rotoworld’s Evan Silva put it best:
Chris Ivory is one of most talented pure runners in NFL. Ferociously physical & laterally explosive. Flaws are durability & pass-gm skills.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) April 13, 2013
In his three seasons with the Saints, Ivory has only appeared in 24 of a possible 48 regular-season contests. He’s flashed explosiveness, but has only tallied 1,307 yards and eight touchdowns, most of those coming in his rookie season.
Outside of injuries, Ivory has not fit in well with the Saints so far because he does not have the ability to regularly contribute in the passing game. He has only caught three passes for 32 yards in his three seasons.
That’s not going to cut it in an offense led by Drew Brees.
Ivory’s lack of versatility has held him back with the Saints. Thomas, Sproles and to some extent Ingram have all shown an ability to contribute through the air. When Ivory is in the game, defenses know he is either taking the handoff or staying in to protect Brees.
As we’re sure you are aware, the Saints do not have a second-round pick this year thanks to the Bountygate scandal. Giving up Ivory, who is at the bottom of one of the roster’s deepest positions, is a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.
An additional pick, especially the No. 39 overall selection, would be huge for the Saints. Having two picks to select top 40 talents will help the rebuilding phase massively. New Orleans needs to find a left tackle and find a way to rebuild the worst statistical defense in NFL history, as Barry Hirstius points out:
— Barry Hirstius (@HarahanWhoDat) April 13, 2013
Having a second-round pick will allow the Saints to at least find one special talent as the defense makes the transition to the 3-4 defense. It also gives the team enough flexibility to grab one of the draft’s best offensive tackle prospects at either selection.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s a trade-off that the Saints win any way you slice it. Could Ivory develop into one of the NFL’s best backs? Sure, but he has done nothing so far to prove that’s in the cards, and honestly, he wouldn’t fit well in the Saints’ high-flying attack anyway.
The Jets and Saints have until April 19 to work out a deal for Ivory. Until then, pay close attention to the happenings around both organizations.
We want to hear what you think!