Saints fans, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: “C’mon, Gene — we heard you griping about the New Orleans Saints not taking an offensive guard in the draft, and then they land a jewel of a steal in undrafted free agent Landon Turner and you still want more guards?”
Trust me: I’ve always been more of a defensive guy and to be ‘banging the table’ for an offensive lineman is an inner struggle, but one that is winning me over.
I used a Leo DiCaprio movie reference before in Drew Brees getting mauled by a bear in last year’s Academy Award winning film The Revenant after the 2015 season.
I’ll use another DiCaprio performance as Howard Hughes in The Aviator where he is obsessed over the construction of his new aircraft and in the grip of an anxiety attack repeats over and over: “Show me all the blueprints — show me all the blueprints”.
That’s pretty much what stage I’m at with this, but it’s “Show me all the guards”, instead.
Dec 13, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints offensive guard Tim Lelito (68) blocks Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Akeem Spence (97) during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The argument has been presented that there is already Tim Lelito and Senio Kelemete, who were at guard last year as well as last year’s first round pick, Andrus Peat — who although is a tackle could slide over and play the position if need be, which he did in 2015.
Add Landon Turner — who many projected as at least a third to fourth round draft pick — into the mix and things should be fine, right?
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But are you willing to bet the health of Brees on that for this season, on the assumption that hopefully “the switch will suddenly click on” or things will work out?
The Saints actually are concerned with it (but just maybe not as publicly), because one of the first free agent signings they tried to make was an offensive guard.
Former San Francisco 49er Alex Boone was a hot commodity in free agency and the they tried to make a valid run at him; but ultimately he decided to sign with the Minnesota Vikings, which was no fault of the Saints since Boone had made known that Minnesota was his primary choice.
So the Saints are likely still in the market for a veteran guard besides the current players they have as well as players like Turner they snagged after the draft.
But as expected, the pickings remaining in free agency are very slim — with only two that stick out for me in Louis Vasquez of the Denver Broncos and Matt Slauson, who was just released by the Chicago Bears.
Dec 28, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints guard Jahri Evans (73) blocks against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. New Orleans Saints defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
WWL 870AM’s NFL and draft analyst Mike Detillier also threw another name out that he feels may head back to the Saints although it could be a little awkward for both, in Jahri Evans.
Detillier noted that after his release from the Saints to begin the offseason, Evan remains unsigned and more importantly knows the offensive system run by them.
I say ‘awkward’ because Evans was released by the Saints after being asked to take a pay cut and he refused with his agent commenting that after doing it in 2015, “We weren’t going to do it again”.
Evans agent also mentioned that after battling injuries the past few seasons, that he was healthy and “looking forward to the next chapter of his career”.
The only visit Evans was noted of going to was shortly after his release, where he was given a glance by the Buffalo Bills.
If he is truly healthy and back to his old form, then this signing would make a lot of sense; but you have to wonder if age and particularly pride would get in the way of this, more so on Evans part.
To be clear, it’s not as if there needs to be a band-aid placed over the position by adding a veteran such as Slauson or even bring Evans back for one more ride with ‘The Apple Dumpling Gang’.
But there needs to be some not just so much as depth, but depth of talent there at guard and praying that the few that you are clinging on to can maybe work out.
Otherwise I’ll be using another reference for Brees if the offensive line peters out again: “Down goes Frazier….”