From the Coach’s Office: When The Hoodie Calls, The Trade and Free Agency for the Saints

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Rule #1 in trading:  If the New England Patriots call, politely excuse yourself and hang up the phone.

The first week of NFL free agency went by in one day.

Usually the first phase of free agency is marked by big moves and big money deals.  Teams almost always overpay on day one.

This year there was a sense of fiscal responsibility from the New Orleans Saints as they filled some needs without overspending.

That good feeling lasted one day.  The trade of Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots changed all that.

Perhaps that was the best that the Saints could have done.  But when you are dealing with Bill Belichick, “The Hoodie,” you have to believe that there is a better deal out there.  Even if it is the best deal you can make, you just do not get a warm feeling.

That ill feeling is well deserved.  Seldom, if ever, do you make a deal with Bill Belichick that is not on his terms.

On day one the Saints re-signed defensive tackle Nick Fairley, two Carolina free agents in wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. and inside linebacker A.J. Klein and guard Larry Warford from Detroit,

Nick Fairley is worth the deal.  The question will be whether he will continue to give the effort with a long-term deal as he did the last two years playing on one-year deals.

New Orleans now has solid depth at the two defensive tackle positions with 2016 first round selection Sheldon Rankins, Tyeler Davison and David Onyemata.  It is the one area of defense that is solid.

The signing of Ginn and Klein may help the team but both are the equivalent of backups.  Ginn was the number three receiver behind Greg Olsen (although a TE) and Kelvin Benjamin.  Klein was the backup to Luke Kuechly but got to play a lot due to injury

Ted Ginn, Jr. is not the same as Brandin Cooks.  While he may be more elusive in the open field, he is not as fast and does not catch as well as Cooks.  If he did, Belichick would have signed him and kept the draft choices.

That being said, Ginn should help stretching the field and will help as a punt and kick returner, an area of need for New Orleans.

Do you think that the Saints are depending on Brandon Coleman to be a reliable, every down receiver?

At the guard position, the Saints made a run at Cincinnati’s Kevin Zeitler before losing out to Cleveland.  The Lions Warford was the next best available at the position.  At 6’3, 333 pounds he has the size to firm up the middle of the O-Line.  He has been considered a better run than pass blocker.

Warford had an excellent rookie season as a third-round pick, but declined his second and third seasons before bouncing back last year.

Then The Hoodie called.  The Saints answered the phone and ignored Rule #1.

Whatever enthusiasm that was built up on day one was squandered on the second day.  No free agents were signed, but the blockbuster trade with the Patriots late in the day put a damper on the weekend.

The New England Patriots are a great study both as a football team and an organization.  They always seem to be a step ahead of the League.

The League has become their farm club.  Over the last two seasons they have traded for more players than any team in the NFL.

On Friday evening the Saints sent Brandin Cooks and overall pick 118 (4th round #11) to the Patriots for picks 32 and 103.

Pick number 103 is listed as a third round pick but is actually a compensatory pick that New England acquired from Cleveland.  In my mind, it is actually a fourth round selection.

Compensatory picks are awarded to teams losing players through free agency.  Those picks actually make the draft eight rounds of players.

This is the first year that such picks can be traded.  The Hoodie is taking full advantage of the rule change.

The analytics of the trade are solidly in New England’s favor.

There is something known as the Draft Trade Chart that assigns point values to each position in the draft.  While not as valid as it once was, the Chart gives us some equivalency perspective.

In this instance, pick 32 is equal to 590 points and pick 103 is equal to 88 points.  When you subtract the points for pick 118 (58 points), you get a total of 620 points.  On the chart that is equal to the 30th pick.

If Brandin Cooks was in this draft at his current ability, would he be picked ahead of the 30th pick?  With the shortage of number one receivers in this draft, the answer is a resounding yes!

While Cooks only has one year remaining on his rookie contract, he is eligible for the fifth year option giving the club control for two more years.  That could become three with the franchise tag.

Remember that NO traded up in 2014 to move from 27 to 20 in a trade with Arizona.  The two players the Cardinals drafted in 2014, DB/LB Deone Bucannon and WR John Brown, are still on the team.  With Cooks departure, not a single member of the 2014 draft class is still with the Saints.

The Saints have figured out a way to turn the 20th selection into the 30th.

New England is playing the NFL like a fiddle and the Saints just became another string.

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Rick Gaille

Rick Gaille

sportsNOLA/WHNO/WGSO Analyst

Rick Gaille has been involved in athletics his entire life, first in the arena as a competitor, later on the sidelines as a coach and now analyzing sports for SportsNOLA.com and WGSO-990AM. As a competitor in golf, Rick was LSUNO’s first athlete, first 1st team All-American (1970) and first three-time All-American (1970, 1971 and 1972). During those years, (LS)UNO won two Division II National Championship in ’71 and ’72 where he captained the 1972 team. As an individual competitor, Rick won the City High School Golf Championship in 1967, the Louisiana Open Golf Tournament in 1971 and the New Orleans…

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