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John DeShazier's New Orleans Saints Mailbag

JD answers twitter questions from Saints fans

From @Rhartnack:

Just wondering if we have considered looking at bringing back Carl Nicks or Reggie Bush.

Every option will be explored in an attempt to better the team. Of course, the questions regarding the two are pretty obvious: Can either still play at a high enough level to help the New Orleans Saints, or have their respective injuries pretty much made them undesirable to most NFL teams, including the Saints? The injury/salary equation in Detroit for Bush made him expendable there, and Nicks' health simply may not allow him to play in the NFL again. But don't doubt that the Saints, if they're interested, know the respective situations of each player.

From @BayouBengalR35

What does (General Manager) Mickey Loomis do this off season about our aging QB? Do we look to this draft?

Well, first, the aging QB still is playing at a pretty high level, so any draftee would be caddying for a couple of years. But, yes, the Saints could pick a quarterback in this draft, and they considered taking one last year. However – and I guess this isn't the sexy response, but I'll toss it out there anyway – there is a young quarterback who already is on the roster, who may be Brees' eventual replacement. In back-to-back years, the Saints have had a chance to let Ryan Griffin get away and in back-to-back years, they've made sure that didn't happen. They're not keeping Griffin around just because he's a nice guy; they like what he offers as a quarterback and they're investing time and money in him. Let's not overlook that just yet.

From ‏@TheJeremyDSmith

Is there any possibility of restructuring of Brees' contract to create cap flexibility?

That possibility exists, same as it does for every other player who's under contract. General Manager Mickey Loomis and his staff have gone over scenarios that most of us haven't even considered with regard to getting the Saints under the cap and creating enough room to sign a free agent or two, and they've been able to execute their plan the previous two offseasons. Until it doesn't happen this offseason, there's no reason to believe it won't happen again. Whether a restructuring of Brees' contract is among those plans, we don't know for sure but likely, it's among the options that are possible and absolutely, the pros and cons of such a move have been discussed.

‏From @Icon_FUJ

How are the Saints going to manage the trash dumpster of a salary cap they have?

They've managed to negotiate those choppy waters the previous two offseasons, when they were able to add cornerback Keenan Lewis and safety Jairus Byrd as free agents. Loomis said the Saints had a 20-point plan going into the offseason of how they would manage the salary cap, roster moves, free agency, the draft, etc. And he said events are unfolding pretty much as planned, so given that the Saints have been able to do it this way in previous years, there's no reason to believe they won't be able to do it again this year.

‏From @CBJ66

Do you see the Saints trading up to get the edge rusher they desire since top notch guys will be gone?

We'll have a better idea of what the Saints may or may not do in the draft after free agency. For instance, they won't need an edge rusher, cornerback, offensive lineman or (fill in the blank) in the first round of the draft if they're able to fill that need in free agency. And, too, remember that trading up always costs something – often times, a future pick. It doesn't sound like much until the actual bill comes due and the pick – young, inexpensive talent that can be locked into a contract for multiple years – no longer belongs to you.

From @SoKo504

Who is most likely to step up as a leader on defense? Keenan Lewis? Cam Jordan? Jairus Byrd? A free agent?

What, you have a problem with Curtis Lofton? Seriously, though, it's not as if leaders aren't already on the team. The Saints got away from some of the core values that have made the teams successful under Coach Sean Payton, and there will be an emphasis on returning to those principles. Personally, I think Lofton is a good candidate to reinforce those tenets – he's a productive veteran who doesn't miss games, plays injured, is vocal and he cares. Deeply. It only takes one or two players to slip, on the field and in the film room, for the production of the unit to significantly dip as players try to overcompensate, rather than simply handle their respective assignments. Lofton is a captain for a reason; sometimes, leadership probably comes down to a few of the younger players maturing and becoming better professionals more than it does a fire and brimstone speech.

From ‏@dimes20012

Who should the Saints go for in the draft?

That'll probably depend on what happens in free agency. As of today cornerback might be a high priority but if a corner is signed in free agency, maybe the draft focus would shift to the offensive line, or vice versa. So while playing the mock-draft game is fun – I've got a few opinions myself – it really doesn't mean much until we see what the franchise does in free agency.

‏From @Emaculate2

What position is a priority in the first round? I like the cornerback from @MSU.

See above. (From what I've seen, there seems to be a lot to like.)

‏From @Cicely60

How is the new season gonna be different from the last?

I'll slip on my cape and channel a little Carnac here: It'll be different because you're going to see a more disciplined team. The mental mistakes – the things that help teams beat themselves, like untimely holding penalties and failing to convert defensively on third-and-8 or more – won't be as prevalent. Only once has Drew Brees had consecutive seasons of 17 or more interceptions, so his history says he won't go that high this year. The defense, which slipped from No. 4 overall in 2013 to No. 31 last year, will rebound to at least be middle of the pack (14 to 18), will produce more than 17 turnovers and won't allow opponents to convert 46 percent of the time on third down. None of those predictions is outlandish, unreasonable or impossible to achieve and since the Saints should be able to improve in all of those areas – and others – they should be able to make the upcoming season different from the last.

To celebrate Drew Brees' 36th birthday, here are 36 stats about the Saints quarterback.

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