While all the buzz surrounding the New Orleans Saints has been in regard to tight end (or wide receiver, depending on whom you ask) Jimmy Graham, the team could be very busy on the trade market as it potentially looks to deal several veterans on offense.
Adam Schefter of ESPN passed along the following news Thursday:
Saints shopping RB Pierre Thomas and WR Lance Moore to other teams, per sources, and even could be open to trading RB Darren Sproles also.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 6, 2014
Moving Thomas and Sproles makes some sense, as Ian Kenyon of Bleacher Report notes:
If I were the Saints, I would have shopped Sproles/Pierre all year with the emergence of Khiry Robinson.— Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) March 6, 2014
The Saints also have Mark Ingram, so Sproles and Thomas could be seen as expendable. Of course, the Saints may not get much in return for any of these players, as Tom Mantzouranis of MMQB.com tweets:
I don't think Saints will get anything for those 3…maybe a late-rounder for one of the RBs. But smart approach, anyway.— Tom Mantzouranis (@themantz) March 6, 2014
Thomas led the Saints with 549 rushing yards a season ago, followed by Ingram with 386 yards and Khiry Robinson with 224 yards. Sproles only rushed for 220 yards, but he added 71 catches and 604 receiving yards to his tally, and his dynamic ability coming out of the backfield makes him a valuable commodity in the team's offense.
Meanwhile, Moore seemed to be gradually phased out of the offense in 2013, making just 37 catches on 54 targets for 457 yards in 13 games. At 30 years old, he doesn't boast the upside of someone like youngster Kenny Stills.
The chance to potentially clear some cap space to ensure Graham can be signed to a long-term extension seems likely to be the reason why the Saints would consider moving these three veterans.
These negotiations are always a process, and Jimmy’s been a great player for us for the last four years. Look, I had hoped and I’m sure he had hoped we’d come to some conclusion on a longer-term deal before this. But we haven’t yet, and hopefully we will. ... We’ll just let it play out, and I’m sure we’ll get something resolved.
The Saints can survive without players like Sproles, Thomas and Moore. They cannot survive without Graham, who is basically impossible for opposing defenses (other than the Seattle Seahawks) to match up against.
Don't be surprised if the Saints move a few veterans on offense to ensure that Graham is re-signed and happy. They have enough depth to cut a few veterans and still be dynamic in the running game, while they could replace a receiver like Moore in a deep draft class at the position.
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