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John DeShazier's New Orleans Saints Mailbag

Posted Feb 12, 2016

NewOrleansSaints.com senior writer tackles your Twitter questions

If it’s Friday, then it’s mailbag time.

Thanks for the entries, keep the questions coming and please, please remember that if your specific question wasn’t addressed, it probably is because it was asked by someone else. No offense intended and, hopefully, none taken.

Now, on to it:

‏@MrEd422: The Saints need to focus on defensive players, but if receiver Marques Colston retires and someone like Mississippi receiver Laquon Treadwell is available still, why not?

JD: Here’s why not – the Saints finished second in total offense, and first in passing offense, with Colston having his least productive NFL season last year. So as talented as the Ole Miss receiver is, offense isn’t where the Saints are ailing. However, if the most pressing defensive needs are met in free agency, and Treadwell is on the board when the Saints pick at No. 12, then it possibly would make sense. But right now, Treadwell seems more like a luxury than a necessity for the Saints.

‏@daleaddison8: Will the Saints gold-out the dome this year?

JD: I really don’t know but, to be honest, I’m in favor of the blackouts (I look slimmer in black).

‏@WKid504: Defensive line or linebacker – what’s the bigger need? What are the chances that the Saints trade back in the first round and later in the draft grab Roberto Aguayo as kicker?

JD: A two-fer. To the first, I’d say linebacker, because David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber were released. Each was capable of starting and Humber was a critical member of all the special teams. We’re still not sure what Davis Tull, a rookie last year, can do; he spent the season on injured reserve. But linebacker always is an area that requires quality depth, and the Saints really like the young defensive linemen they brought in last year so they may be less inclined to make significant additions there. As for trading back and picking Aguayo somewhere later in the draft, I can’t give you odds on the former, but it always depends on whether the player the Saints covet will be on the board if they move back. If the belief is that he won’t be, you take your guy at your spot. To the latter, Aguayo was an outstanding college kicker, but that doesn’t always transition to the NFL. So the Saints, or any other team that might be considering him, will be real sure that he’s worth a draft pick, even in the later rounds.

‏@Trevor_All_Day: Do you think Cam Jordan will be in double digits for sacks next season?

JD: Yep. He’s been in double figures two of the last three seasons and he’ll have more help as his defensive line mates get more experienced. His motor runs high and so far, he hasn’t been one to rest on laurels.

‏@whodatbreesus9: How can I meet Drew Brees?

JD: Place an order at Jimmy John’s, and hope he’s your delivery guy that day. Or…come to an open Saints practice (minicamp, training camp, etc.). He signs autographs until requests are filled.

‏@betterthanjoey: Why did the Saints choose to trade/release such good players as Lance Moore, Darren Sproles, Jimmy Graham, etc.?

JD: Determining when to part with a productive player is always a tricky prospect. Does his production match his salary, or does he appear to be on the decline? Sproles’ numbers dipped in each of his last two seasons with the Saints; he returned four punts for touchdowns in the last two seasons with the Eagles, but based on what showed up on film his last two years with the Saints, it would’ve been pretty hard to predict that spike. Moore also experienced a statistical decline in New Orleans, and the injuries began to mount. He was a fan favorite and possessed great hands, but Willie Snead sure looks like a suitable replacement who’s younger, cheaper and just as productive. As for Graham, the Saints had a greater need on the offensive line than they did at tight end, even though Graham was the best receiving tight end in franchise history. Trading him to Seattle for center Max Unger essentially was the Saints upgrading their offensive line, and wagering that the offense still could be productive without Graham. New Orleans led the league in passing offense, and Drew Brees had one of his best seasons, so the Saints didn’t starve offensively without Graham.

‏@thegutsysleeper: Last year, the Saints shocked us with Andrus Peat as their first pick. Do you see them going defense first? Who would your top pick be?

JD: My answer here is the same as always – it depends on who the team can pick up in free agency. The needs that can be addressed in free agency often will dictate what happens in the draft. Given that the offense found its groove as the 2015 season progressed and finished second in yards per game, and the defense was at or near the bottom of the league in the major categories, going defense in the draft is pretty logical. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a lineman, linebacker or defensive back; all three positions could use a boost.

@KevinLee1125: Who do you think the Saints will keep, Tim Hightower or Khiry Robinson?

JD:  Tough call, especially if C.J. Spiller remains on the roster. I’d go with the youth of Robinson if he’s totally recovered from his broken leg, but that probably would be the deciding factor. I’m as big a Hightower fan as there is – his comeback story is amazing, and his appreciation for the game is unmatched. And what he provided for the Saints down the stretch last season was the epitome of professionalism; every player on the roster considers him an inspiration. In a perfect world, the Saints get to keep both but if it becomes a numbers game again, and the team needs to keep an extra linebacker or defensive back, then it’ll be a tough call again.

@SteveLOFC: Brandon Browner? Discuss!

JD: If you’re talking about his status as a Saint, officially, there’s nothing to discuss. He still is on the roster until an announcement is made or confirmed. I saw the tweet, and read into it the same thing that you did. But as of today, Browner still is a Saint. He had one of the rockiest seasons in NFL history as a cornerback, but he’s still a Saint until he’s not. All we know for certain at this point is that he absolutely, positively has to have a better ’16 than ’15, regardless of the franchise.

‏@Moek2214: Do you think Saints will wait until the second round for a linebacker, since Dannell Ellerbe is coming back?

JD: Not if the right one is available when they pick in the first round. Remember, the Saints just parted ways with David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber, two players who started at linebacker periodically in 2015. Ellerbe is talented and impactful, but he played in just six games last year, one game the year before and only once has played more than 13 games in a season. If he’s healthy it fills a significant need, but that’s not an assumption that comfortably can be made.

‏@Byrdmanjr02: Do you think the Saints will go after linebacker Jon Beason after his release?

JD: He retired. He’s 31, has had injury issues (microfracture surgery) and only played in 21 games the last three seasons. Probably not a gamble worth taking.

‏@Shoegameking1: Do you personally think the Saints are going to the playoffs next season?

JD: Yes. Is this a test?

‏@kuyabudzyleonor: Any chance the Saints want to move to No. 7 for Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey or Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III?

JD: Probably, every team wishes it could have either. The questions are: What’s the price to pay for moving from 12 to 7? And is that price worth it for the Saints? My guess is that it may be too costly, especially for a team looking to add more talent, rather than trade it away, through the draft.

‏@airmcnair1999: What is your best football moment?

JD: Re-opening of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, after Hurricane Katrina, for more reasons than I can express here. Mainly, though, for the symbolism that New Orleans again was open for business. The facility that had become synonymous with the city, which had been brought to its knees and had become a symbol of Katrina’s destruction, was back and improved and an example of what could be done during the recovery.

‏@Zoli812: Does anyone feel like Garrett Grayson can be our Aaron Rodgers? Any chance we can trade down to acquire more picks? Which RBs do we keep?

JD: A three-fer. OK, first, of course, the hope is that Grayson is the quarterback of the future, Rodgers-level (or Brees-level) being the best-case scenario. Second, there’s always the possibility of trading down to acquire more picks, depending on who’s on the board and how many picks can be acquired. And third, if everyone is healthy, I’m guessing that the Saints will open 2016 with the same running backs as they opened 2015 – Ingram, Robinson, Spiller and Murphy. Potential roster moves and health can affect that, though. And I can’t express strongly enough how much I like Hightower as a player and person.

‏@WhoDatNOLA1025: Is a hot dog a sandwich?

JD: What does the hot dog say?

@JDayErrday: With Delvin Breaux, Keenan Lewis, Damian Swann, P.J. Williams, Kyle Wilson, etc., cornerback isn’t a huge need in the draft or free agency, right?

JD: Let’s see: Lewis was injured all of 2015, even when he played, and finished on injured reserve; Swann had three concussions and finished on injured reserve; and Williams is an unknown commodity who spent the season on injured reserve. Breaux and Wilson are the only two who played the majority of the year, so that’s counting on a lot of unknowns. Plus, there isn’t a team that can’t use quality, and quantity, at cornerback. I’d say that the position remains a position of need.

‏@Jbpinto3: When do you think we'll see a Drew Brees restructure/extension? My guess is by the new league year.

JD: If you’re gonna answer what you asked, you’re gonna make these mailbags really easy for me. Thanks.

 

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