Outside of Saints fans, it’s probably safe to say not many football fans know who Willie Snead is. He went undrafted out of Ball State. Both the Browns and the Panthers cut him before he made his way to the Saints. He isn’t coveted by Fantasy Football players in the same way as Michael Thomas or Mark Ingram. And he has yet to break 1,000 yards in a season. But inside the Superdome, and in the hearts of Who Dats everywhere, Snead is one of the more popular Saints. It’s easy to see why.
On Monday this week, it was reported that Snead plans to show up for the team’s off-season workouts despite the fact that he is not currently under contract. The Saints offered him the minimum salary tender for a veteran of his experience, $615,000 for one year, making him a restricted free-agent. To this point, Snead has refused to sign the tender in hopes of working out a long-term deal. In other words, Snead is under absolutely no obligation to participate in the off-season program.
What’s Next for Willie Snead?
His willingness to participate in these voluntary workouts regardless is reflective of the team-first mentality and tenacity that makes Snead such a fan favorite. An undersized wide receiver at just 5’11”, Snead has had to rely on his heart and quickness rather than raw ability. When he signed with the Saints before the 2015 season, not many expected him to earn a spot on the roster. He clawed his way to a permanent position and amassed over 140 catches for nearly 1,900 yards since then.
Like most Saints fans, I would love to see the Snead rewarded for what he’s done with a lucrative contract. However, as the old adage goes, “in business, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” Make no mistake ladies and gentleman, the NFL is a business. The Saints hold most of if not all the leverage here. Snead’s decision to participate in these workouts is just the next phase of a negotiation. But in typical Snead fashion: it’s a classy move, and it adds rather than detracts from the ultimate goal of putting together a playoff run for the Saints in 2017.
Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton have stressed the importance of culture in the locker room they are trying to build. There may be no Saints player who embodies the ideals of competitiveness and hard work more than Willie Snead. They would do well to take care of the type of players they want to attract.