Associated Press photos of Coby Fleener with the Colts.
The latest installment of our New Orleans Saints mailbag, still warm. Thanks for the submissions, as always, and keep 'em coming in the future.
?@TBuras: Who do you think has the most potential to be the Willie Snead of this season?
JD:I'd love to be able to answer your question but the truth is, no one knew that Willie Snead was going to be "Willie Snead" until we saw him in OTAs, minicamp and training camp. We haven't seen any of the players do anything since the season ended, so I could pull a name out of the hat and pretend to be really, really smart, or I can tell you that I can give you an educated response a little later. I know that's not sexy, but I'd rather be real with you. Someone unexpected will shine because someone always does, but it's difficult to say who without having had a look.
@EL_Know:Is Patrick Williams looking like a starter at cornerback?
JD:I'm going to assume you mean P.J. Williams, who missed last season due to injury. Delvin Breaux is the starter at one corner, Keenan Lewis (if healthy) is probably the starter at the other corner. It'll be more interesting in the sub-packages; Damian Swann was very good when he was available as a rookie, but he had three concussions, and Kyle Wilson also showed flashes. Williams was highly regarded for a reason, but he hasn't done anything yet in order for anyone to call him a starter. Let's see him healthy and available, and then we'll go from there.
@burchett_tyler: Do you see the Saints addressing the lack of pass rush in free agency, or waiting for the draft?
JD:It doesn't have to be mutually exclusive. They can do both, pick up a rusher in free agency and in the draft. It's an area that needs to be upgraded, so every avenue will be explored, as it should.
@GravnarLothbrok: With everyone in the NFC South except the Saints getting key defensive players in free agency, what should be fans expect to come?
JD:Sounds like you're disappointed that the Saints didn't win the first week of free agency. First, the teams that win the first week of free agency always are the ones that have the most money to spend (the Saints, decidedly, are not in that cash-lying-around category). Second, winning free agency with big names doesn't necessarily guarantee a team anything. It seems far better to find the "right" guy than to get the "name" guy, so fans should expect the Saints to continue pursuing the "right" guys for them, rather than handing over all their available cash and cap space to a "name" guy, whose price tag might prevent other moves.
@Meateye: What information do you have on all the Nick Fairley rumors, and what are the chances that the Saints will land James Laurinaitis?
JD:Rumors are just that until something solid actually transpires. Fact is that Fairley probably isn't looking to give a Gulf South discount; he's a Mobile, Ala., native but he very well could be a little too pricey for the Saints. Now, the longer he's on the market, the better for the Saints because maybe his price will drop to their neighborhood. But he's highly sought after because of his talent. As for Laurinaitis, he has taken several visits and appears to have options. If his play has regressed, as reports suggest, then the Saints might be interested, but only for the right price.
@thegutsysleeper: Are you happy with the Coby Fleener signing, as far as value and productivity?
@whodatnation96: How do you feel about Coby Fleener becoming a Saint and losing Benjamin Watson to the Ravens?
JD:In the last three seasons Fleener has averaged 52 receptions and five touchdowns; I'm good with that. If he was able to do that with the Colts, there's no reason his numbers shouldn't be comparable – and, likely, better – in New Orleans with Drew Brees as his quarterback. Watson had a career year last season at 35 years old; Fleener may not be the blocker that Watson is, but his receiving skills measure up favorably, his contract is reasonable and he's eight years younger than Watson.
@SiRxWiLLiAMzZ: Are the Saints grabbing any free agent linebackers or waiting on the draft?
JD:Another situation that doesn't have to be mutually exclusive. They'll be looking to address that need in both ways, because upgrades in talent come in a variety of ways.
@ryanlasports7: Do you get the sense that the Saints defensive scheme will change from a base 4-3? Maybe to a 4-2-5 with safety Kenny Vaccaro playing in the box?
JD:We won't really know which scheme(s) defensive coordinator Dennis Allen will employ until he gets a good look at all of his available pieces. He's no different than any other coordinator in that he'll want to get his best 11 players on the field, whether than means an extra safety or linebacker. Let's see who's healthy, who's drafted and who potentially is added via free agency before we worry about the scheme, because the talent will dictate the scheme.
@Nightwing560: Why did the Saints let go of Marques Colston and Benjamin Watson? Those two moves were really stupid.
*JD: *Colston's last two seasons were the least productive consecutive seasons of his NFL career and, unfortunately, injuries had become an issue. Watson chose to sign with Baltimore as a free agent. So, exactly, what would you have the team do?
@hayes9jetsgo: Will the Saints be taking a player like Myles Jack, or Reggie Ragland, or maybe even a Laquon Treadwell with the No. 12 pick?
JD:Yes. I mean, that's the short answer. They're three talented players and each would be an asset to any NFL team, including the Saints. And, of course, the Saints are looking for an upgrade in talent. Now, that doesn't mean that those specific players will be available at No. 12, or that they'll be more highly rated than another player in New Orleans' bullpen; if you're not going to take the most highly-regarded player in your bullpen, there isn't much need to spend money on a scouting department. But, of course, the Saints are looking for talented, impact players and those three are talented, impact players.
@theriot5150:Will Drew Brees redo his deal, or will he show his true colors?
JD:Interesting that you would call it Brees' "true colors" if he doesn't do what you want him to with a contract negotiation/extension. Anyway, Brees and the Saints are engaged in extension talks and I still expect it to be done. If and when that occurs, perhaps you'll change your perception of what his true colors are.