We’re going to start this off with a bit of a rant.
Do you see Grayson as the Saints future QB? — @Jkdewitt
I get asked about Garrett Grayson all the time. I’ll admit that it gets a bit frustrating constantly telling people to wait and see. I know this has nothing to do with what you’re asking, @jkdewitt, but I need this moment to get this off my chest.
Here we go …
People want their teams to draft and develop players, right? That’s all I hear during draft season. Then when a team drafts a player they want to develop, suddenly everyone wants him to be a Day 1 NFL starter. That’s just not real life for most of the players selected in the draft.
And yet, for some reason, the narrative surrounding Grayson has been one of panic since the day he was picked. Why? Drew Brees is under contract. The Saints don’t need a starter right now. Grayson is someone the team believes has potential and wants to groom him for a few years to see where he’s at down the road.
I read tweets during last training camp (!) about how the Saints should get rid of Grayson. I’m not an NFL scout, but he never looked that bad to me. He looked like a rookie. He made mistakes. He was in his first camp. He was still learning. There were highs. There were lows. It was exactly how you would have expected him to look.
Keep in mind that this system was designed and has evolved over the last 10 years to suit a quarterback who will end up in the Hall of Fame, not a guy coming out of a Colorado State. It’s like asking a first-year law student to pass the bar after handing him a syllabus on the first day of class.
We still haven’t seen what Grayson looks like with a command for the offense, when he can work through his reads without thinking about his reads. Let’s judge him after seeing that.
I don’t know if it was a bad sign that Grayson wasn’t named the immediate option when it was speculated Brees could miss time late last season. I don’t know if it’s a bad sign that Luke McCown was brought back this offseason.
What I do know is that there was a plan to develop Grayson. Had the opportunity materialized, I’m not sure that abandoning the red shirt last year and throwing him to the wolves would have been the right decision — especially not for a player who plays a position where confidence is so important. Is it worth risking failure when there’s a long-term vision?
The other part of that: No one knows for sure who would have started if Brees was unavailable. Maybe it would have been Grayson. Maybe it wouldn’t have. Either way, it’s a stretch to assume a decision either way would have meant something greater in the grand scheme.
So, what about the future? Will he beat out McCown this summer? Does it matter if he beats out McCown? Will he be the next quarterback? Will he get cut? I don’t know. No one does.
We need to see this camp and preseason. And even then, we might not have all the answers on this topic. Grayson needs time to grow.
Besides, Brees is still under contract for 2016. The Saints didn’t draft another quarterback. Nothing can be done right now. There’s no reason to rush to conclusions before we have the information needed to reach one.
OK, I’m good. Let’s get into the rest of the mailbag.
Why are we so acceptant of Drew’s salary-cap cost? — @RickeyP11
I don’t think I’m really acceptant of it. I only speak for myself, but I’m not a big fan of kicking the can down the line. But I think, at least for now, considering the situation of recent seasons as well as this one, you just have to turn a blind eye to it for now.
The good news is that they haven’t done anything too ridiculous with the major moves this offseason. Terron Armstead’s contract is relatively flat after this season. He has a $5 million roster bonus, which could be converted to a signing bonus next year. That would pump his cap hits up around $15 million in 2019 and 2020.
Hopefully, the team sticks to a path of more responsible spending and contract structures. It’s easy to act like the cap doesn’t exist, but you’ll eventually run into issues. The problem isn’t just Brees’ cap number. That’s just the most visible symptom of a series of decisions that led to this.
Do you think Michael Thomas will break out like Odell Beckham in his rookie year? — @Cheeseballs2k
So, we’re just setting the bar at one of the best rookie seasons of all time? No, pressure, Mike.
Beckham caught 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns over 12 games that season. That’s 108.8 yards per game. The Saints have never had a receiver average more than 81.9 yards per game with Brees at quarterback.
I’ll let Thomas surprise me if that happens.
Is Cadet on the fringe again because of the excess at running back? — @Midel_Castro
I think he was going to have to win his job no matter what. But drafting Daniel Lasco is another obstacle for him to overcome.
I like Cadet a lot. I thought it was a mistake when they let him get away. I never expected him to perform as well as he did at the end of the season, but he’s obviously a great fit for this system.
I know it will come back to haunt me — it still bothers me that I was SO wrong about him last year — but I still think C.J. Spiller can be a good player for this team.
Everything I said last year is still true. Theoretically speaking, Spiller has the skills to succeed in this offense. Sean Payton has displayed time and time again he knows how to use those kinds of players.
Having said that, I think Cadet showed he’s solid insurance in the event things don’t work out with the other players on the roster.
Do you see Fairley and Rankins taking over as the starting defensive tackles? — @Wonton_Robin
This was followed up with another Tweet explaining that the logic behind the thinking was to get the four best players on the line.
I get it. Put the best players on the field and let them succeed, even if someone isn’t in their natural position. It’s the same thing we’ve been talking about here by suggesting that Andrus Peat could play at guard next season.
But I struggle to envision Fairley or Rankins playing a position other than three-technique defensive tackle. That would put John Jenkins and Tyeler Davison at the nose in base. That makes more sense to me.
Rankins did a lot of different thinks at Louisville, but he’s here because of his ability to rush the passer. I’m not sure Fairley has ever played nose. It’s hard to know if he’s suited for it.
I think by taking either of those guys and dropping them at nose it would take away from their ability to get after the passer. I can’t see it right now.
But I’ve been wrong before. I’m the guy who hyped up Spiller like he was going to be Marshall Faulk. By the way, I’m sorry for ruining your fantasy football teams. One of my editors here still hasn’t forgiven me.
Would the Saints ever consider putting Unger at Guard if Jack Allen looks good? I know it would be asking a lot of Allen. — @EdTostevin
I think the Saints would consider doing whatever they think is the best thing for the team. But you said it; that’s asking a lot of Allen. He’s an undrafted player. Those guys aren’t guaranteed to stick around.
We’re talking about a guy who was in the Pro Bowl a couple of years ago as a center. I think that’s Unger’s best position, and it would take a monstrous performance for this to even become a consideration.
This is another one that I don’t see happening.
Do you think the Saints carry a fullback this year or an extra tight end? — @RobertFouquet
I thought the Saints were moving away from the position last year by using Michael Hoomanawanui in a lot of packages where a fullback previously played. Then the fullback came back, and the Saints added an undrafted player at the position.
I’m not sure Payton will ever fully move away from the position. He likes having those guys around. And he knows how to use them to his advantage in the passing game.
There are going to be six or seven plays every year where he’ll sneak a fullback out of the backfield and get him wide open in the flat for a reception.
New Orleans will keep whatever player will bring more value to the team, but it will be hard for Payton to give up on fullbacks.
Pick one player for the Saints that becomes a Top 10 player at his position and one player to stay healthy all year? — @Thaidai3
Easy. Delvin Breaux. Take out three plays from last season (slips against the Colts and the play where he got lost in the lights) and the rest of the country isn’t sleeping on this guy.
I don’t know about staying healthy, but James Laurinaitis doesn’t miss snaps. I’m convinced he’d have to lose a leg to miss any action.
What two players do you see making the biggest jump on both offense and defense? — @AndrewHogue1
That’s tough to answer on offense. Even though I think Brandin Cooks will continue to improve, he’s already a star. It would be cheating to select him. Everyone else is already well established.
Whether he’s the third or fourth receiver, I think that Brandon Coleman will continue to improve. Something clicked for him late last year with Marques Colston out and I think he’s ready to contribute in a more substantial way.
On defense, I’m going to go with Hau’oli Kikaha. I think the Saints are going to use him in ways that will better suit his skills. I also think he’ll have more opportunities to contribute after disappearing down the stretch last year, which was in part due to an ankle injury.
Does the addition of Vonn Bell take less off of the plate of a Kenny Vaccaro and let him play a little more loose next season? — @JDayErrday
I don’t know how much it will directly impact Vaccaro. He was already playing in the box and close to the line of scrimmage most of the time last year. I think he’ll continue doing those things, though his role could change a little bit.
I think it will more impact the safety position. The Saints might use more two-high looks, with Bell and Jairus Byrd splitting the field.