Saturday Evening Post: A Day at the Zurich, tardy Pels, Saints moves

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SATURDAY EVENING POST

Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

Rickie Fowler and Jason Day plan to form one of the marquee teams for the first year of a new format at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS — It appears Jason Day is planning to play in the Masters Tournament next week at Augusta National after completing his second day of practice in preparation for the golf season’s first major championship.

On Monday, Day said his status for The Masters was up in the air while his mother, Dening, recovers from recent lung cancer surgery in a Columbus, Ohio, hospital. Day said his decision would be based on the doctor’s prognosis.

After practice rounds Friday and Saturday at Augusta National, all indications suggest Day will be in the elite field of 94 when play begins Thursday morning, though it’s unknown whether he has received the prognosis.

At the moment, Day also plans to fulfill his commitment to play in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana on April 27-30, partnering with Ricky Fowler in the new two-man team, 72-hole stroke play format that features alternate shot scoring on the first and third days and best ball scoring on the second and fourth days.

The Day-Fowler team — the third- and ninth-ranked players in the world — will be one of 80 teams competing for the $7.1 million purse the last week of April.

TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE

For those keeping score at home, the New Orleans Pelicans are 10-9 since acquiring DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins on Feb. 18 from the Sacramento Kings, including 10-6 during the month of March.

And while the Pelicans (33-43) are slowly but surely inching up in the Western Conference standings — six games remain in the regular season, the final four come on the road where they are 12-25 — the chance of them overtaking current No. 8-seed Portland (38-38) for the final playoff spot is highly unlikely.

Try as they have, the Pels have not been able to climb out from a 0-8 hole to open the season.

If this late season upswing continues, it will be interesting to see how the job performances of GM Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry are viewed by their boss(es).

Changes are forthcoming this offseason. It remains to be seen if they extend beyond the roster.

LEST WE FORGET

Back in the offseason of 2014, Saints free agent Malcolm Jenkins played a leading role in the veteran exodus from the Big Easy, signing a three-year, $16.25 million deal with Philadelphia. He chose to leave, saying at the time: “I know they had a lot of money tied up. I completely understand the business part, but the Saints didn’t offer me anything. So I really had no choice but to leave.”

Hours after the Jenkins deal went viral, Saints officials signed free agent safety Jairus Byrd to a blockbuster six-year, $54 million deal. We know how that transaction turned out.

Byrd laid an egg and was released a month ago with three years remaining on his deal.

I bring this episode up because Jenkins was involved in recent trade talks between Saints and Eagles officials when wide receiver Brandin Cooks was up for grabs. Philly offered Jenkins plus third- and fourth-round picks for Cooks, which the Saints rejected because they wanted the deal to include a second-round pick.

Jenkins remains an integral part of the Eagles’ secondary.

The Saints dealt Cooks to New England.

And the Saints are left with safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Vonn Bell. Each has value but neither is in the same class with Malcom Jenkins.

CHASE … SO YOU CAN

Chase Daniel #10

(File Photo: Chase Daniel)

Journeyman Chase Daniel has thrown his helmet in the ring for the backup job to starting quarterback Drew Brees in New Orleans, signing a one-year, $900,000 contract with GM Mickey Loomis.

The 30-year-old Daniel rejoins the Saints after stints in Kansas City (2013-’15) and Philadelphia (2016) where he did little to pad his career stats that now read two starts, 51 of 78 for 480 yards, one TD, one INT and seven sacks in eight NFL seasons.

Certainly, Daniel and Saints officials view this as a win-win situation. Coach Sean Payton gets a quality quarterback who’s all-too familiar with the offense and Daniel finds a comfortable landing spot as he goes about competing against 35-year-old Luke McCown and 2015 third-round draft pick Garrett Grayson.

As far as Daniel becoming Brees’ successor, I don’t see it.

Though barely six-feet tall, Brees has stood tall in the pocket for 16 NFL seasons. Daniel, who went undrafted in 2009 after a stellar career at Missouri, is a similar height but plays much smaller.

And yet Daniel continues to earn a great living as a career backup. Consider: In addition to the $900,000 base salary he will make in New Orleans this season, provided he makes the team, he is guaranteed another $4.1 million from the Eagles as part of a three-year, $21 million contract that he signed in March 2016.

By my count, Daniel has pocketed more than $16 million in base salary and bonus money since his rookie season in New Orleans in ’09 when he bounced up and down from the practice squad to the active roster, eventually earning a Super Bowl ring as an emergency quarterback.

That number stands to go up as Daniel continues to Chase his dream, whether in New Orleans or elsewhere.

WORTH REPEATING

We are building something. I feel like we have a window of opportunity.” — Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

MY TAKE: This so-called “window of opportunity” has been there since the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV in 2009. I’m curious as to how long this window will remain open — ad infinitum?

Also, what exactly does “building something” mean?

What have Saints officials and players been doing the past seven years — building nothing?

Is the window of opportunity officially closed if Brees and the Saints fail to reach the postseason this coming season, or win Super Bowl LII, since this is the final year of his contract in New Orleans?

Just asking.

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Brian Allee-Walsh

Brian Allee-Walsh

sportsNOLAtv//USA Today//Biloxi Sun-Herald

Allee-Walsh joined sportsnola.com in November 2009 after spending 32-plus years with The Times-Picayune, the last 23 years covering the New Orleans Saints and NFL on a full-time basis. Prior to that, Allee-Walsh worked as the Public Relations Director for the Triple A New Orleans Pelicans (1977). A native of Seattle, Wash., the 64-year-old Allee-Walsh grew up in Indianapolis, Ind. He graduated from Brebeuf Jesuit High SchooI (Indianapolis) in 1970 and Indiana University in 1975 with a B.A. in Journalism. Allee-Walsh is married to Jennie, a native New Orleanian, and graduate of Isadore Newman School and Indiana University. They have three…

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