NEW ORLEANS — I didn’t disagree with the Jimmy Graham trade, so I’m certainly not going to quibble with New Orleans Saints officials if they would get the proper compensation in return for fourth-year wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
Like Graham before being dealt to Seattle in March 2015 for center Max Unger and a first-round pick (No. 31), Cooks is a bona fide offensive weapon. But the team’s recent inability to get above the .500 mark since 2013 and return to the playoffs has little to do with Sean Payton’s offense and everything to do with Sean Payton’s defense.
The Drew Brees-led offense continues to be productive with replacement parts, in part because of No. 9’s ability to make everyone around him better and Payton’s tried-and-true multiple scheme.
If Saints GM Mickey Loomis can get fair market value for Cooks, either from Philadelphia at No. 14 in the first round, Tennessee at No. 18 or another suitor, then I say GEAUX FOR IT, whether it comes in the form of draft pick(s) and player(s) or a combination of both as long as it helps the defense.
If that move enables the Saints to package a deal to move up from No. 11 in the first round of the upcoming draft and acquire a potential difference maker on defense or provides them with more cap room in order to make a splash in free agency, then it would be well worth it.
Translated that means an edge rusher who can disrupt a backfield and pressure opposing quarterbacks like those who currently play in the NFC South — reigning league MVP Matt Ryan (Atlanta), 2015 MVP Cam Newton (Carolina) and Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay).
Remember, the Saints traded up from No. 27 to No. 20 in the first-round of the 2014 NFL draft in order to select Cooks. That transaction with Arizona cost the Saints their first- and third-round picks. And while Cooks has acquitted himself nicely in three seasons (215 catches, 2,861 yards, 20 TDs), he is the only thing the Saints have to show from a very forgettable ’14 draft.
That ’14 scorecard also featured defensive back Stanley Jean-Baptiste, linebacker Khairi Fortt, defensive back Vinnie Sunseri, linebacker Ronald Powell and offensive lineman Tavon Rooks.
CIRCLE THE DATE
Friday, April 21.
Barring a change in plans, that is the day the long-awaited Bayou Oaks championship golf course designed by Rees Jones will open for public play. Groundbreaking ceremonies earlier in the week will precede the public opening.
The $13.18 million par-72 layout incorporates portions of the former East and West courses and features many of the same historic oak trees that survived Hurricane Katrina and existing lagoons that we’ve come to know and love at City Park.
The course has been designed to accommodate players of all skill levels and will play between 5,100 and 7,250 yards.
The annual Zurich Classic of New Orleans will be played the following week at the TPC Louisiana with the new two-man team format slated for April 27-30.
BOOGIE & THE BROW IN LA-LA LAND
The Pelicans will win their first game with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins in the lineup at 8:30 p.m. Sunday against the LA Lakers at the Staples Center.
You can take that to the bank.
The Pels have yet to win with the Boogie-Man on the floor. They are 0-4 with him, the latest loss coming Friday night against the San Antonio Spurs 101-98 in overtime at the Smoothie King Center.
They are 1-0 in games when Cousins has not played. The Pels whipped Detroit 109-86 on Wednesday night at the SKC when he was forced to serve a one-game suspension after drawing his 18th technical of the season one game earlier against Oklahoma City.
The biggest winners in Friday’s home loss were those folks whose lives in eastern New Orleans were abruptly uprooted by a destructive tornado Feb. 7.
They received $31,000 from Pels guard Jrue Holiday, who pledged to donate $1,000 for each point and assist he made against the Spurs. He scored 26 points and dropped five dimes in a losing effort.
That random act of kindness won’t show up in the boxscore, nor will it help the Pelicans make up any ground on those handful of teams currently ahead of them in the playoff chase.
But Holiday’s generosity certainly can be chalked up in the win column.