ESPN gives the New Orleans Saints third-worst free agency grade
By John Hendrix
ESPN Senior Writer Mike Sando handed out his NFL free agency grades on Wednesday, and he didn’t care much for the New Orleans Saints moves.
The team was given the third-worst grade of all 32 teams with a D+, with the Miami Dolphins (D) and Cleveland Browns (F+) finishing lower. Here’s what Sando had to say, which requires Insider access to view the full article.
"The Saints need to upgrade their defense, but their big-ticket purchase was for a receiving tight end in Fleener. Coach Sean Payton said the team simply wanted to add another quality player, which was fine, but the Saints remain a flawed team with burdensome salary-cap limitations.“I do not have a lot of confidence in anything these guys do,” Riddick said. “Coby will be Jimmy Graham lite, but beyond that, what did they do?”Dominik said some of the Saints’ moves could become addition by subtraction depending upon how New Orleans fills holes in the draft.“They are constantly redoing deals and Brees could be the one they redo to create a ton of space,” Yates said. “If the Saints were to spend big for something this offseason, I never would have guessed it would have been on Coby Fleener. It feels like the Saints are going about this one year at a time from a cap standpoint. They have also lost veteran leadership.”"
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In summary, here’s another outlet that doesn’t care much about the
acquisition. The biggest misconception is around the team overpaying for Fleener, which isn’t necessarily true. Like many free agents the New Orleans Saints have acquired this offseason, the contract is back-loaded to help with the 2016 salary cap. Fleener’s guaranteed half of his 5-year, $36 million contract, and his signing bonus is spread out over the duration of his deal with $1.6 million hits each season. Fleener is fairly certain to flourish withDrew Brees
at the helm.
The veteran leadership lost that Sando alludes to is likely through the losses of Marques Colston, Jahri Evans, and Benjamin Watson. As stable as those leaders were in the locker room, things do have to change at some point. It almost feels like a double-edged sword when the team does or doesn’t make moves.
Next: Saints 2016 Free Agency Final Report Card
The biggest takeaway from anyone’s assessment is just that it is an assessment. Rarely do you find a team that wins in free agency actually wins during the season, and the New Orleans Saints know it. Flying under the radar is probably one of the best things the team can do this year.