NEW ORLEANS I love this time of year, when NFL mock drafts rain down on us like colorful confetti. Rumors and speculation swirl like winds off the sea fueling the feeding frenzy of draftniks everywhere.
Like our Gulf Coast weather, if you don’t like it, wait a few minutes; it’ll change.
But mostly I love to connect the dots in anticipation of draft day.
Like this fantasy trade involving Seattle and New Orleans: The Seahawks deal veteran cornerback Richard Sherman to the Saints for versatile running back Mark Ingram and/or a high draft pick.
And then the Saints deal with the running back position in the upcoming draft with one of their five picks in the first three rounds — say, Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon. I recall in 2011, when the Saints traded back into the first round and selected Ingram at No. 28 when they already had running backs Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Chris Ivory on their roster.
Also, veteran free agent running back Adrian Peterson reportedly is visiting Saints officials next week.
Here’s my logic:
It appears the Seahawks will part ways with Sherman, who remains one of the league’s elite cover corners at age 29. General Manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll are in need of a quality ball carrier to fill the void created by Marshawn Lynch’s semi-retirement, and an impact offensive tackle to bolster an inconsistent running game and protect quarterback Russell Wilson.
The Seahawks’ asking price seems high. A premium player, perhaps; a first-round pick, OK; but not both.
That said, hear me out.
On a Saints team that features few expendable premium players, Ingram would get my nod off the offense. I don’t want to touch my defense and the pickings are slim there, anyway. My untouchables are, of course, quarterback Drew Brees, defensive end Cam Jordan, left tackle Terron Armstead, young wide receiver Michael Thomas and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins.
In coach Sean Payton’s offensive scheme, running backs are replaceable parts with varying roles depending on down and distance. That’s not to diminish Ingram’s value or ability or to quibble with Payton’s time-tested approach to moving the football.
The run simply fills the void between passes from Brees to a smorgasbord of receivers.
I’ll throw in another potential wrinkle. Let’s say LSU running back Leonard Fournette is still on the board when the time comes for the Saints to pull the trigger at No. 11. He might be gone by No. 11 but he certainly won’t be there when the Seahawks pick at No. 26.
Fournette for Sherman?
Would you make that trade?
LSU loyalists and New Orleanians might not because they’d love to see the St. Augustine High School alum wear the Black and Gold. But Fournette could be the second coming of BeastMode in the Pacific Northwest.
Sherman would fill a glaring need on a talent-challenged Saints defense but he would come with a price: He has two years remaining on a five-year, $58.789 million contract that would count about $13 million annually against the salary cap. Payton wants to add an edge rusher and/or cornerback in the draft and we already know he covets New England Patriots Super Bowl hero, cornerback Malcolm Butler.
Too, Sherman is a free spirit, unafraid to confront teammates and coaches, and highly combustible. He’s also intelligent and can make game-changing plays.
I’d take Butler if a deal could be reached with the Patriots because of his age (27). But Sherman is a proven commodity — just ask him — and closing a deal for him seems far less complicated.
There is no hurry. This deal could happen draft day, April 27.
Eighteen days and counting.
Man, I can’t wait.