Marques Colston was not among the players reporting to the Saints’ voluntary OTA sessions starting yesterday, and I’m not surprised one bit.
Behind Drew Brees, Colston is arguably the most valuable player on the Saints' offense. He set an NFL record for most receptions in his first two years as a pro, and has been the leader of the Saints' receiving corps from the day he set foot on the practice field two years ago.
Unfortunately, Colston has been paid like a seventh-round draft choice instead of the Pro-Bowl-caliber player he has been for the past two seasons. But being the stand-up, classy guy that he is, Colston hasn’t made a peep about the pebbles he’s been playing for, until now. And his strike couldn’t have come at a better time.
Now is the perfect moment for the budding superstar to make his protest for more money. We are chest-deep into the NFL offseason, so he isn’t missing any mandatory activities and his absence is giving the other twelve thousand wide receivers on the Saints' roster an opportunity to get some reps.
Besides, do you think Colston is sitting at home watching baseball on his couch getting fat? I seriously doubt it. I bet he’s in his backyard, trying to figure out a way to make the JUGS machine throw him slant routes.
So it isn’t a big deal that Colston was a no-show at this week’s voluntary OTAs. The Saints know he is their best receiver, and they’ll have a contract extension in the works soon enough.
But as long as we’re on the topic of the Saints' wide receivers, why don’t we take a more detailed look at who will be filing up behind Colston next year on the depth chart.
As far as I’m concerned, the battle for the No. 2 wide-receiver spot will be one of the fieriest fights in this year’s training camp. Of the top six receivers on the roster behind Colston, only three have a legitimate shot to secure the second starter position.
Devery Henderson, David Patten, and Robert Meachem are the candidates. Terrance Copper, Lance Moore, and Adrian Arrington will be duking it out to be the third and fourth options.
Here’s how I see it playing out. The opening-day starters will be Marques Colston and David Patten. Patten, being the grizzled veteran that he is, will do enough in training camp to secure that opening-day nod. Meachem, however, will be nipping at his heels.
I’m optimistic. I think Meachem is going to make something of himself this season. Do I have any concrete evidence to suggest that Meachem will be any more useful to the Saints than a five-dollar bill at a strip club? Of course not. I guess it’s just wishful thinking. But all reports out of the Saints' camp so far peg Meachem as being a drastically improved player, so we’ll see what happens.
If Meachem does pan out, he’ll force his way into the starting position by midseason. Patten will work back into the third-receiver slot position, where he’s better suited anyway, and Meachem will begin to make amends with the team and fans for redshirting last season.
So, by midseason, the depth chart will look as follows: Colston, Meachem, Patten, Henderson, Moore. I’m putting Moore in front of Copper and Arrington because I’ve never seen him drop a ball. Behind Colston, Moore may have the best hands on the team. His only drawback is size. He’ll make some plays in special teams though, and he'll find his way onto the field in some capacity.
Arrington is a wild card. The Saints plucked him in the seventh round of this year's draft, and they have had nothing but good things to say about him thus far. The question is: Will he impress coaches enough in training camp to keep himself employed or will he be sent packing?
In the end, this year’s receiving corps, with the exception of Meachem, will be similar to last season’s. And if the Saints are smart, they’ll get a deal for Colston done quickly, because if anyone deserves a payday, it’s him.