Official SR Curmudgeon
Diamond VIP Contributor
- Aug 1, 1997
- Reaction score
- Lafayette, LA
Ask Mike – February 13, 2007
Handle: Dan in Lafayette
I’m really looking forward to the draft guide.
I’ve got one quick question concerning Charles Grant. Do you think the Saints will try to re-sign Charles Grant, put the franchise tag on him, or let him hit the free agent market? He disappeared during the Bears game. What are you hearing concerning Grant?
I have heard from a couple of agent sources over the weekend that the Saints and DE Charles Grant have stepped up talks about a new deal over the past 2 weeks. While nothing is very close the Saints are trying to work out a new agreement before having to make decision on if to put the franchise tag on Grant.
The good news is that both sides are trying to work out a new agreement. This is certainly a change from the fall of 2006 when it seemed as though a new deal could not be agreed upon. It appears as though the Saints are moving closer to what Grant and his agent have asked for.
The word is, if Grant becomes available, the Tampa Bay Bucs and the St. Louis Rams are primed to make a hard run at him.
From: Las Vegas
I heard you on ESPN radio last night discussing possible 2008 NFC champs with Jason Smith. You mentioned that you thought Chicago would repeat as champions, but that Seattle may upset them. I am hoping that you might clarify this or at least provide an explanation. It is my personal belief that the road to the Super Bowl will be through New Orleans.
Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on this topic.
Maxwell J. Libidoski
Easy explanation Max, Jason's question was if you had to choose between the Bears going back to the Super Bowl or the Colts in 2008, whom would I choose?
Because of the talent level in the NFC and in particular their division schedule I would chose the Bears. The AFC has much tougher competition and the Bears really won't take many real hard shots in free agency. Now we are speculating because no one knows who will be lost or obtained in free agency or the draft, but in my opinion it is an easier ride for the Bears to get back to the big game than the Colts.
Just put your Saints cap down and consider which teams you would want to play twice a year, the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers or the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Bucs. This is just my opinion, but I would rather play the NFC North rivals, instead of what the Saints have to go thru in the NFC South.
The Colts have divisional foes in the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans, but their conference schedule is going to be tough due to the talent level they play in the AFC. It's tough to repeat also and so in my judgment I believe that the Chicago Bears have the better chance to get back to the Big Show. It's my opinion based on their talent level, their conference schedule and if they play like they have the past 2 seasons they will get home field advantage and we all know how important that is come late January.
Also, while I picked the Colts to win the Super Bowl, I am not hating on what the Bears did this season. They accomplished a Super Bowl run without 2 Pro Bowl performers in the prime of their careers in DT Tommie Harris and S Mike Brown. I fully explained that the teams in the NFC East would beat each up (Dallas, Philly, N.Y. Giants and Washington) and it is almost the same in the NFC South with the Saints, Falcons, Bucs and Panthers.
Jason asked to give one team that could possibly edge the Bears out of home field advantage and again we are looking way ahead in the future, but with the talent level, coaching and NFC West conference foes of the St. Louis Rams, S.F. 49ers and Ariz. Cards, it could well be the Seattle Seahawks.
I would love to see the Saints back in the NFC championship picture and they certainly have the offense to get back, but this will be an off-season of change again, especially on defense. The team you saw in 2006, you will not see again in 2007. In the commuter world of the NFL, either you get better or you get worse. There is no staying the same, unless you keep the same personnel and that will not happen in New Orleans.
The question was just a simple one on who had the better chance to return to the Super Bowl between the Bears and Colts and I gave my opinion it was the Bears who had the better chance. That was no prediction, but a comment based on personnel, coaching, division scheduling and one of the top defenses and special team groups in the league.
What we all forget sometimes is that we are just in Year 2 of the Sean Payton regime and there is plenty of change yet still to be done to get this team back into the NFC championship picture. Remember Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo in going into Year 4 of the rebuilding of that club.
Hope that explains the comment, Max
Name: Derrick Walker
From: New Orleans
Hi Mike, love what you have to say all the time. And all the time it seems to make the most sense. Happy for the Saints and their great 2006 season now its time to move on to the off-season
(1.) Do you think the Saints will go after FA's like Asante Samuel, Randy Starks, and Ben Graham?
(2.) I think CB's are not more NFL ready than a LB, do the Saints go LB
1st? If so, who? Timmons or Willis?
(3.) We all know Saints had an amazing sleeper draft last year. Saints need a TE, and do you think we go TE so early with all the other needs on Defense? Take Rodney Hannah from Houston in the late rounds? (ht-6'8" 40-4.5)
(4.) Last question, Mike. Do the Saints keep Carney and Grant? Or they get Nick Folk and a FA at DE?
(1.) Derrick, Asante Samuel would be a great pick-up for anyone, but the Patriots hold his cards in their pockets and they could well block his free agency move by putting the franchise tag on him. I don't expect to see him out on the open market. If not, Nick Harper of the Colts, would be an excellent addition as a starter.
I would pass on Duane Starks from the Oakland Raiders.
TE. Daniel Graham would be an excellent pick-up. He is a good receiver and he has blossomed into a tremendous in-line blocker in New England. He would be a perfect pick-up for this offense.
(2.) Everything is down to individual thinking and talent, but in my opinion you go after best player available. If it's cornerback, you go there, if it's a linebacker, you do there instead. I would be surprised to see either Lawrence Timmons or Patrick Willis available that late in Round 1.Best value could well be at wide receiver. Sidney Rice or Dwayne Bowe or maybe even a defensive tackle like "Tank" Tyler may be available.
(3.) It would just depend on who is available. Rodney is an interesting prospect because he has only played 1 year of college football, he was a basketball player before, but while he has great size and athletic ability, he is a project player that will take some time to develop. He is a 7th round pick type player that you know will take a little time to refine, but I agree with you he has amazing athletic ability and he caught the ball pretty well last season, even in a back-up role with the Cougars.
(4.) I think they will bring John Carney back, but they will have plenty of competition for him and I believe they will draft a place-kicker or sign a veteran to challenge him. At this stage I would place the franchise tag on Charles Grant and either try and re-sign him or deal him off and get a veteran starting-type player and an extra 1st round choice. Grant, a young DE, who still has a high upside, is worth a lot on the open market and I would protect him the only way I could and that is franchise him and go from there. This buys you time to re-ink him or deal him off and get some compensation. Don't just let him go and get nothing in return.
From: New Orleans
Belated congrats on the SI honor. It's about time others have discovered what we have known all along.
My questions are relating to Saints Free Agency.
Fred Thomas' play has been suspect to say the least. Would the Saints take a long look at Asanti Samuel who's a free agent? The Pats had no problem letting Ty Law and Lawyer Malloy get away. So is this a possibility? Can we see a #22 transfer of jersey next season for the Saints?
Also, what other positions do you think the Saints will target in F/A?
Thanks David, I appreciate the kind words.
I would love to see the Saints get Asante Samuel and you are correct that in the past the Patriots have not blinked an eye to cut loose a player, but in the case of Law and Milloy both were veterans and at the tail-end of their careers. Samuel is a different story on that part and
I expect them to place the franchise tag on him. Now, maybe there is a deal to be done here, if you can work out the right contract and the proper compensation, but there will be plenty of suitors for Samuel. He would be a great pick-up for this team, but I am sure there are about half the teams in the NFL with the money and opening to bring him in also.
I expect the Saints to make a pitch for San Diego Chargers MLB Donnie Edwards, New England Patriots TE Daniel Graham and CB Nick Harper from the Indy Colts CB. Rod Hood (Philly Eagles) is also a strong possibility.
Name: Greg H.
From: Baton Rouge
Love your column. It seems most of your personnel calls have been right on the money the last several years at least.
Do you think Sean Payton truly understands that Deuce's yards his first 4 years with the Saints were almost all against 8 man fronts? He seemed hesitant to "beat his head against the wall" against Chicago and other teams determined to stop the run.
Greg, thanks for the compliments. I appreciate them.
Sean Payton will have a long off-season to figure out the best ways to use Deuce and Reggie Bush together. Now he did a great job in most cases and I am sure he will beat his head against the wall on how the final game against the Bears ended and what might have been, if he would have made different calls in the 3rd quarter, but I have few faults with Payton's play-calling skills.
Also I really believe that Payton was concerned if Deuce would hold up for an entire year with the knee that he made a remarkable recovery from. The off-season is when you make those subtle changes that make a difference the next season. I am very confident that Payton knows what he is doing as a play-caller and he will make those changes and he will have a better knowledge of his overall personnel.
You can't change the past, but I always believe that you learn from mistakes or maybe I should say better knowledge and improve upon it. These two guys make such a dynamic duo the challenge is to make sure both get their touches, but the real challenge is to know when to use one over the other due to defensive schemes. When you have plenty of one-on-one match-ups downfield the itch is to throw the ball more. I agree at times Payton fell into that trap, but believe me this guy is a tremendous play-caller and I believe he is a young version of Mike Shanahan.
Name: Mike Pasqua
From: Plaquemine, La
You've said you think the Saints will pick a quarterback some where in the draft. Can you say a little something about this list?
1. Tyler Palko (Pitt)
2. Jared Zabransky (Boise State)
3. Jordan Palmer (UTEP)
4. John Beck (BYU)
5. Keve Kolb (Houston)
6. Lester Ricard (Tulane)
Your Best Fan from Baton Rouge
P.S. Good to meet you at the LSU Recruiting Bash.
(1.) Tyler Palko (Pitt) - Short, stocky flame-thrower who tries to fit too many balls in tight quarters. Late round pick at best.
(2.) Jared Zabransky (Boise State) - I love his toughness and his ability to make something out of nothing. He is a little antsy in the pocket at times, but I like his accuracy skills and touch. Late round pick, but someone that will play in this league, if he doesn't get carried away with himself. He also will run with the ball and buy time, just like a young Jeff Garcia.
(3.) Jordan Palmer (UTEP) - Not close to being the prospect his brother Carson was. Has a super strong arm, but he lacks great touch and he is not very mobile. Late Round pick
(4.) John Beck (BYU) - This is the guy I hope the Saints get. Smart, accurate and he hits receivers dead in stride. He is not real tall, but neither is Drew Brees. Outstanding touch-type passer who right on target in most cases.
(5.) Keve Kolb (Houston) - Riverboat gambler, who blows hot and cold as a passer. Buys time with his quick feet. He has a strong arm and he can make all the throws. Will be picked in the first day.
(6.) Lester Ricard (Tulane) - Excellent size and an above average arm, but he is very erratic and not very mobile. Must work harder at his craft. Late round pick at best.
Mike, take care.
Name: David Potter
Handle: st. dave
From: New Orleans
Thanks very much for your insight and analysis during this past season. It's been most useful during the Saints 2006 campaign.
First off, let me say in my opinion, the Saints need a cornerback in the first round after watching Fred Thomas and Jason Craft frequently play catch up towards the end of the season.
Many Saints fans have advocated free agency for our cornerback search, but the price tag will be extremely high-end and players like Asante Samuel will most likely have the franchise tag slapped on them.
Others have suggested using the 27th pick on LB Patrick Willis, if available. Though he would be a great pickup, I still see cornerback as our most pressing need.
(1.) What quality cornerback would be available at #27, or how far would we have to move up to achieve this?
(2.) Is it likely that WR Dwayne Bowe would last until the late second round?
St. Dave, thanks for the nice comments.
I see cornerback as the Saints most pressing need also. That means the Saints will go after a starting cornerback via free agency. Pittsburgh's Darrelle Revis may well be on the board late in Round 1. I see Leon Hall (Michigan) and Texas' Aaron Ross off the board at 27. St.Dave, I see Patrick Willis off the board when they pick at 27 also. If not, he won't be around for the 28th pick.
There is no way that Dwayne Bowe will be on the board late in Round 2. I see him as a late 1st round pick (23-29. He is too good of a football player to last that late.
Name: Heath Chain
From: Bastrop, LA
I enjoy reading your columns and your insight into the Saints and the draft.
I'm from north LA and get to watch ULM in Monroe some. What do you think of their CB Chaz Williams? He intercepted a lot of balls in his career. I know it's a small college, but do you think he has a chance to get drafted, and do you think he could fit with the Saints?
Heath, thanks for the nice comments.
Yes, I think that Chaz Williams will get selected late and he would be a good fit for the Saints. Williams has good cover skills and he has smooth transition moves as a cover-guy. Now, he does need to upgrade his overall strength and get better as a tackler and in run defense, but he would be an excellent 6th round choice.
The thing I really like about Chaz is that he picks up the ball quickly in flight and he has good ball skills. Either you have that skill or you don't and he does have that ability. What I wish he were better at is in run defense and being a more physical player.
From: The Best Bank
Mike, like everyone, I would like to thank you for answering our questions and brining wonderful insight and opinions to the site.
My question is, with all of these articles that have recently surfaced filled with opinions and speculation on the future of the Saints in New Orleans, what is your personal opinion on what the future holds for our Saints.
Specifically, do you feel that the talks with the State will go "smoothly"? Do you feel as though we will have more businesses step up after the great season we just had and fill more of the suites? Along with the talks with the State do you think Benson will finally get a new stadium? I know all of the stories are speculation and opinion but I would just like to know your stance on these issues.
Thanks Mike and keep up the good work.
Peyton I really can't say just how well the talks will go with the state on a new deal. Do the Saints see Governor Blanco as a lame duck leader and will they wait it out to see if Bobby Jindal is the new governor? Benson supported him the last time he ran.
I certainly see the business community stepping up to help out in sponsorships and with suite sales. Everyone wants to get involved with a winning team and that will help this organization in regionally getting more support. Ticket sales won't be the problem as you know, but I am interested to see the business support the Saints get in the off-season not only locally, but also across the state and the Deep South. I really believe we will be pleasantly surprised with some new support.
Eventually all of us feel as though there will be new stadium built, but how far in the future that is and how it will be paid for is the big question mark. It's a great question and I wish I had a better answer, but for the short-term the Saints look like they will get the ticket support, business support and sponsorships they need to stay competitive, but what happens in the future is a dice-throw.
Name: Darryl Hebert
From: Lake Charles
Being from Lake Charles, and an alum of Barbe High School, I have followed the career of Justin Vincent. Do you think he will be drafted, or do you think he will have to enter the NFL through free agency? Or, does he even have any plans on trying to play at the next level?
Thanks for all you do for us fans.
Dog, I see Justin Vincent as a late round pick, probably either 6th or 7th round. He is versatile, can catch the ball pretty well out of the backfield and he plays on special teams. As a back up in the NFL, he certainly has a shot. He seemed to lose his specialness as a runner after his freshman season, but his ability to play special teams and as a 3rd down back may well earn him a roster spot. I think he will get picked very late in the draft.
Take care, Dog.
Name: Philip Laborde
Mike, love your work.
Could you possible speak to Deuce's future with the Saints in your next "Ask Mike"? Is there anyway he leaves the Saints, by his request or due to a change in philosophy? Payton seems to go away from Deuce for no real reason, even when Deuce is having success. I feel it would be a mistake (especially since he is signed long term so the Saints know where they are contract-wise with him) and all the top teams this year had 2 RB's that see alot of time.
Phillip, I see Deuce in a Saints uniform for quite a while. He signed a long-term deal in the summer of 2005 and he made a remarkable recovery from a very serious knee injury. I love that combo of Deuce and Reggie. Two running backs sets are the rage in the NFL and the Saints have a great combo.
The only problem with that is, when you lose, you get criticized for not using one or the other more. But Coach Payton did an excellent job calling plays most of the year and what many of us forget is that he was just in his first year as a head coach with a host of new faces and he made it work at a very high level. I would have liked to see Deuce carry the ball more at times, but I understand Sean wants to get everyone involved and when some things are open downfield you want to make a big play and score. Sometimes things just don't work out that way.
Mike, now that the season is over, do you think Mr. Benson will give our "coach of the year" a little something extra to keep him happy for a job well done? Also, should the Saints consider new contracts for Colston and Evans to show some good faith?
Shoe, I believe Tom Benson might be smart and wait a year before tearing up Payton's new deal. I am all for money incentives, but I don't like giving long term deals to coaches and if things go south, Benson seems a little hesitant to pull the plug in the past, like with Jim Haslett and Jim Mora. If Sean and the Saints have another great year, give him a sizable raise and incentives and then talk about a longer term deal, but not now.
Marques Colston and Jahri Evans kind of both fall in the same boat. I don't see new deals for any of the two this season or even next year. Let's just worry about the guys we don't have under contract and people we need to add to the lineup. Those rookie deals are tailor-made to keep a team under the cap limit pretty good. If both continue to play at a high level in 2007, then begin talks in 2008.
It's a good idea, but let's wait a while before we start giving new deals to first year head coaches and players.
Take care, partner.
From: Los Angeles
I know I speak for you and all Saints fans when I say I'm sad the season is over. This team has really been a pleasure to watch.
That said, what's it going to take for this team to play in the Super Bowl next season? It's hard to imagine the NFC getting much stronger next year. Should we be optimistic that the Saints can return to the NFC Championship Game again?
Andrew, it really wouldn't surprise me to see these two teams back in the championship game. The Saints have the offense to get there and the Bears have the defensive personnel to get there. Scheduling, injuries and new personnel and how they jell always make it a hard guess, but both those clubs are talented, well coached and seem on the right track to meet again. The Saints need to get better on defense and the Bears need to upgrade their offense.
Yes, I would be optimistic about the Saints and their future. But every year is different and last year at this time I am sure people in Carolina, Cincinnati, Washington, Tampa and Pittsburgh were very optimistic also and none of those clubs made it to the playoffs. The good thing is that the Saints coaching staff were not picked apart in the off-season and that really good crew returns almost in full.
From: Chicago, IL
I am a huge fan of yours and you made me a Saints fan with your talks on ESPN Radio and on the Sporting News Network. Let me say I grew up a Bears fan and I love my team, but the Saints are now the team I follow the most after the Bears. I also got to see you on television when you were on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams talking about the Saints.
If LSU's Dwayne Bowe were available when the Bears were on the board, would you say the Bears select him?
Also, do the Saints consider taking PK Mason Crosby in Round 2? I am a huge fan of John Carney, especially since he was a Golden-Domer, but Crosby looks like a special kicker.
What happened last spring when it looked as though the Saints were going to sign LB Will Witherspoon and he signed with St. Louis instead? If he had signed, would the Saints have signed Scott Fujita?
Love the SaintsReport.com also.
Big Fan, and congrats on the Sports Illustrated award.
Thanks Brandon, I appreciate the kind words and what is really heart-warming to me is all the calls and e-mails I get about how many fans like you across the country have fallen for the Saints. It was great to cover them this year and it gave me some fantastic memories, but the fact that the Saints and the city got so much publicity and I had a very small part in that made it special.
Yes, if Dwayne Bowe is available, he would be a perfect fit for the Bears. He is a lot like a younger version of Muhsin Muhammad. I just doubt he will be around at 31. A TE like Zach Miller (Arizona State) or Greg Olsen Miami (Fla.) would also look like a great fit for the Bears.
Brandon, I don't know if the Saints would consider picking Mason Crosby that high, but if they don't someone else will pick him in Round 2. He is a tremendous kicker and kickoff man and he grades out higher than Mike Nugent, who the N.Y. Jets took in Round 2 in 2005. I have never been one to really want to use a high pick on a kicker, but Mason is real special and I wouldn't complain one bit to see the Saints select him in Round 2.
The Saints were in hot pursuit of Will Witherspoon and they wanted him to be their starting MLB, but he never visited. He decided to visit St. Louis first and right then and there he signed with them without visiting the Saints. The Saints really wanted him, but he really liked what he saw in St. Louis and he was really impressed with the recruitment of Jim Haslett, the Rams defensive coordinator.
Believe me, Haslett is a real smooth talker and recruiter and you think he really knows this game until you find out just what he knows and what he doesn't. And sometimes he stretches the truth a bit. It would have not affected the signing of Scott Fujita. The Saints wanted Scott to play the strong side slot and Witherspoon would have been in the middle.
Name: Kirby Arnold
From: Mobile, AL
Mike, love your stuff.
I met Jim Haslett at the Senior Bowl and when I brought up the Saints he told me that Payton was winning with the talent he brought in and that he had an easy ride in New Orleans because of all the talent he left him. I immediately thought about you when he said this with a straight face. He also is not a real big fan of GM Mickey Loomis, but I think you know this already.
I know you are a big fan of LSU's Jamarcus Russell and have been for quite some time, but do you think the Oakland Raiders will take him with the top spot?
Kirby, I appreciate the kind works.
Believe me what you said about Haslett's comments don't surprise me one bit. This comes from a guy that saw his team disassembled by Sean Payton and 28 new faces on a 53-man squad. That's just Haslett being Haslett and to be honest he is no big fan of anyone in this business, other than Al Davis.
Yes, I do firmly believe that without a money issue JaMarcus Russell will be the top pick in the 2007 draft and with the Oakland Raiders.
From: San Antonio
Mike, love the work you do keeping us transplants up to speed on the team.
My questions are when this ride ends (hopefully with two more wins) where do we go from here? With the defections that are bound to happen can the front office do something similar to what New England has done?
Shawn, I think that is exactly what they would like to do. Grab a high priced player or two in free agency and then fill in with medium range guys. Now that is a lot easier said than done, but I really have been impressed with Sean Payton's personnel skills and his ability to find players that fit his system. He also believes that the draft is very important and will try and build with draft choices also.
The difference between the Saints and the Patriots at this stage is that the Saints seem much more concerned about keeping what they consider "good" starting type players like a Mike Karney and Scott Shanlee and resigning their own and the Pats seem to not put nearly as much emphasis on keeping and paying their own, other than say Tom
Brady and Richard Seymour.
Name: Andrew Nuzzolillo
Aaron Ross won the Thorpe award correct? Where do u see him being drafted? How good is he really?
Andrew is an outstanding cover-man and a really good punt return specialist. He has good recovery ability and he finds the ball quickly in flight. He also has good instincts and while he guesses some, he is a smart football player. I look for him to be drafted in the early part of the 20's in Round 1. That would be before the Saints pick.