Technically, there is a price on New Orleans Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis — $25 million plus over a five-year span with $10.3 million in guaranteed money. Those numbers may change after controversy over the weekend, which led to trade rumors. But it’s not money that Lewis should be measured in, it’s his value to the franchise both as a performer and dedicated teammate, which of course ultimately lead to a nice payday.
After the club traded away All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham, Lewis expressed his feelings via Instagram regarding his job security in his hometown of New Orleans. The Saints reportedly opened up a ‘fire sale’ putting their entire roster on the trading block, except for Drew Brees and Brandin Cooks.
Guard Ben Grubbs was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs followed by the departure of young emerging wideout Kenny Stills, who was sent to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a much needed linebacker in Dannell Ellerbe and a third-round draft pick.
An initial report by CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora led to a new rumor — Keenan Lewis was now being actively being shopped by the Saints. However, it seems the reports were bogus, but after a week of insanity in the Big Easy, anything seemed possible.
But was Lewis really going anywhere? Brees aside, he is arguably the most valuable asset to the organization, consistently performing at a high level while also flying under the radar as a shut-down specialist in the Saints’ secondary.
Lewis is a treasure, an esteemed commodity that would be near-impossible to replace, especially after going all in on CB Brandon Browner and RB C.J. Spiller in the free agent market. The Black and Gold simply have no money left to target another defensive back in the market, at least for now. You certainly can’t rely on an incoming rookie to fill his shoes at cornerback — the most difficult position to transition to from the collegiate level.
Keenan Lewis will likely be in the Crescent City for the long-haul. In fact, he took to Instagram yet again over the weekend, sharing two photographs. The first picture was of him on the field in position sporting the black and gold colors. “Focus ready for this season who dat,” Lewis said.
The following photo was an aerial view of the colorfully lit up Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Under the picture the New Orleans native’s words read “This is my home, I been here for 28 years. From playing a high school championship in here, to helping (Hurricane) Katrina victims with a little bit of my college funds, to trying my best to help this beautiful home and people get a Super Bowl. I love this place and every person who lives close or in it. Trust me leaving was never an option……I love it too much…..Who Dat….”
Following the Graham trade, Lewis was indeed disgruntled, but who wouldn’t be? The tight end was also a valuable asset, but at the end of the day, the NFL is a business, which is sometimes a tough reality for the loyal and dedicated to grasp.
All Keenan Lewis wanted to know was if his time in New Orleans was long-term. Is there really anything better than playing for a successful franchise that happens to be occupied by the city in which you were born and raised in? I believe there is no more suitable situation a professional athlete can be in — Lewis certainly doesn’t think so.
Since taking his talents to the Crescent City after playing four years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Lewis has been without question the Saints’ top defensive back and one of the most underrated corners in the National Football League.
While his numbers were excellent over the past two seasons (87 total tackles, 22 passes defended and six interceptions), they don’t even compare to the amount of grit, toughness, dependability and devotion he brings to the table. Lewis hasn’t missed a game, making all 32 starts in the regular season and two in the playoffs.
He could have very well sat out a handful of contests in 2014 after a brutal contusion that left his knee swollen to the size of a grapefruit. However, he stuck through it and played. You could tell he was in pain — a number of opposing wide receivers were able to take advantage of that. I also might add his wanting to return after suffering a concussion against the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2014 postseason, staying on the sideline and violating protocol.
At times Lewis struggled along with the rest of the secondary, but there was no better option. A hurt Lewis was far more productive than anything else remaining at the cornerback position.
In 2015, he’ll have the opportunity to play alongside the newly acquired Brandon Browner. Assuming All-Pro safety Jairus Byrd bounces back from a knee injury and Kenny Vaccaro conquers that sophomore slump, a very dangerous secondary is brewing down on the bayou.
So after all the bickering and trade rumors that began to swirl around him and the New Orleans Saints, there is only one reasonable outcome — Lewis is here for the long-haul. His performance on the field and dedication to his coaches, teammates and city are essential features that cannot be replaced. Keenan Lewis is a precious treasure to this organization. Like his fans, Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis and the rest of the staff are well aware.