ESPN's Adam Schefter says that the New Orleans Saints might be willing to break up the core of their team even more, with a few key contributors on the trading block.
This comes after the team already let go a big chunk of its veteran defensive core, including Will Smith, Roman Harper, Jabari Greer and Jonathan Vilma earlier in the offseason. One big reason is the Saints' salary-cap situation. They are up against it and have the franchise tag placed on tight end Jimmy Graham. They hope to sign him to a long-term deal but first might have to battle with his being designated at the lower-tendered position, and not at wide receiver.
[Be sure to check out Shutdown Corner's NFL free-agent rankings. Click here for the list of offensive players, and click here for the list of defensive and special teams players]
Clearly, those defensive players had reached their football and financial expiration dates with the team, and a new age is upon the Saints.
The same can be said for Thomas, Moore and Sproles. Thomas is a valuable performer, as is Sproles. But the team already has Khiry Robinson in line for a much heavier workload, and it has invested much in Mark Ingram, who at least showed signs of life late last season. Moore, meanwhile, appears to have passed his prime, even if he is good still for a few breakout games against inferior defensive backs.
The Saints might be able to find a quality third-down back, perhaps even a rookie, who can fill the role of Thomas and Sproles, depending on whether any teams might be willing to bite. It would hurt to lose the veteran talent, but the team needs cap relief and wants to try to re-sign some of its other free agents in addition to Graham.
Several teams might be looking for running back help, and though there are some interesting talents in the draft and some free agents who might be ready to help elsewhere, it's not a banner crop at either source.
The Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins are a few teams that could be interested in running back help, and a team such as the Detroit Lions — with new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, who was on the Saints' staff last season — might be interested in Moore to help out a thin group of wide receivers after Calvin Johnson.
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