There's no guarantee when, or if, a 'must' will be filled – only that it exists.
But the New Orleans Saints were able to go a long way toward satisfying, perhaps, their most glaring 'must' this offseason in a two-day span: adding unrestricted free agent cornerback Desmond Trufant on Sept. 7; and trading for cornerback Bradley Roby on Sept. 8, in exchange for a third-round pick in 2022 and a conditional pick to Houston in 2023.
Coach Sean Payton said the Saints, who will open the regular season Sunday against Green Bay at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., were pleased with acquiring Roby, a first-round pick in 2014. Roby has 10 interceptions (three returned for touchdowns) in 99 games, with eight forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and 75 passes defensed.
"We've known the player for awhile," Payton said. "We spent a lot of time when he was coming out. The trick was, there were two or three options and I felt (Executive Vice President/General Manager) Mickey (Loomis) and (Vice President of Football Administration) Khai (Harley) and those guys – we just didn't know of (Roby's) availability. For us right now, we've already got two (third-round picks) and there's a good chance that we might have a third one relative to a compensatory.
"I said this: When a position is a 'must,' you don't know when you're going to be able to fill it. You hope to be able to fill it earlier than later, but there's some things that took place this year that remind me a little bit of '06. We made a trade for (linebacker Scott) Shanle (on Aug. 23) with one preseason game to go, and then (linebacker Marc) Simoneau (on Aug. 28). Two of our starting linebackers really were here for the first week of preparation to get ready for Cleveland.
"So we've had some roster changes, which is pretty common on the final cutdown. But we're excited to get him. There's a handful of people that I know closely that have worked with him, coached him and the feedback has been really good."
The Roby trade highlighted the difficulty in acquiring a high-level cornerback.
"They're hard to find in the normal offseason," Payton said. "Obviously, it becomes more difficult to find as you get to your roster cut downs. He's got one more game where he can't play, and then he'll be up and ready to practice and everything next week."
Roby will complete a six-game suspension after the regular-season opener, dating back to last season, when he was suspended for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy
"There were a lot of discussions with Houston and a few other teams," Payton said. "This one worked out and we felt real good about it."
Once Roby does join the team, he'll receive a crash course on learning the defense.
"We're going to try to get him (up to speed)," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "That's a tight learning curve so within a week or so, hopefully he'll be able to digest small portions of the playbook and obviously, be learning on the run. Same thing with Trufant. We signed a few guys here in the last couple of days and it's going to be a tight learning curve for them, but we feel really confident in our group and where we are so far. It won't be long to get them acclimated.
"Our gameplan is pretty solid. Our scheme isn't overly complicated. It's more so just getting acclimated to the looks, the communication, the verbiage, the tools within the defenses that we as players control on the field. It's less about what (defensive coordinator) Dennis Allen calls. I think that part is easy. It's more so just getting acclimated to how we play off of one another."