Can the Saints Be 2016 N.Y. Giants in 2017 Free Agency?


NFL Free agency is a hit or miss proposition in the NFL. While the Saints have had their share of misses, this year’s New York Giants team — a team that went “all in” in this past year’s Free Angecy period by spending a huge amount of money on several big name players — serves as the counter-argument to “playing it safe” come next spring. 

The New York Football Giants were not a very good team last year.

They went 6-10 for the second year in a row, and they were the only NFL team with a worse defense than the Saints.

Last year’s showdown in the Big Easy was an offensive explosion, an all out aerial assault that left all defensive coaches who watched the contest wanting to avert their eyes from the calamity.

Nov 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) reacts after throwing his seventh touchdown pass of the game during the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Giants 52-49. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants were so bad down the stretch that two-time Super Bowl winning coach Tom Coughlin was shoved out the door, and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo was promoted to the head coaching position.

Aside from the coaching change, the Giants were very aggressive in free agency.

They spent “mega” money on blockbuster signings like defensive end Olivier Vernon, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison.

When all was said and done, the Giants had spent more than $200 million dollars on upgrading their defense.

The spending spree was touted league-wide as a gamble, and several analysts were convinced that the Giants had overpaid for “unproven” starters, especially Olivier Vernon.

Nov 20, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon (54) hits Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) after a pass for a personal foul during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Fast forward to the current point of the NFL season, and it’s hard to view the Giants moves as anything other than successful.

They are currently 10-4, and are right in the thick of the NFC playoff  hunt.

The fact that the Cowboys haven’t clinched the NFC East already with 12 wins is a testament to just how good the Giants have been. They are currently ranked 3rd in the NFL in points allowed on defense.

While this is an example of what can happen when the free agency gamble works in your favor, the Saints are on the completely other end of the gambling spectrum.

Nick Fairley is the first free agent signing to actually be a dominant force for the Saints in quite some time.

The list of free agent “busts” in recent memory is long and expensive for the Saints, including costly investments that did not yield returns like Brandon Browner, C.J. Spiller, James Laurinaitis and the much maligned Jairus Byrd, although Byrd’s play has improved in the second half of this season.

Sep 26, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman (26) breaks a tackle attempt by New Orleans Saints free safety Jairus Byrd (31) during the third quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Due to moves like the restructuring of Drew Brees’ contract, and the likely rise of the salary cap expected next year, for the first time in what seems like forever, the Saints won’t be in “salary cap jail” come 2017.

While the Saints won’t have $200 million dollars in cap space, most estimates have them with over $30 million dollars of wiggle room.

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In all likelihood, next year will be the year the Saints push their chips to the middle once again, and try to capitalize one last time on the Drew Brees window.

The defense is trending in the right direction under Dennis Allen, and Drew Brees still gives the Saints the proverbial puncher’s chance against any team in the NFL.

Factor in Saints fans’ increasing restlessness with the status quo of mediocrity, combined with gambling tendencies the Saints brass has exhibited in free agency previously, and it’s difficult to imagine the Saints exercising restraint once the free agency period begins.

If anything — the Saints could be major “players” in 2017 NFL Free Agency.

Next year will be a make or break season in New Orleans for a number of reasons. Free agency is likely to play a big role, and the Saints success in that arena, or their continued lack of it, will go a long way to determining the outcome of 2017……