Saints coach Sean Payton downplayed the trade rumors surrounding safety Kenny Vaccaro this week, noting that it’s not unusual for other teams to call about positions of depth (Twitter link via Joel A. Erickson of The Advocate). Another source echoed similar sentiments to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, pointing out that it only makes sense for the Saints to listen on Vaccaro since he is in the final year of his deal and they might not be willing to spend big money to keep him. Still, second-year pro Vonn Bell took Vaccaro’s place in the lineup on Sunday and that’s not a good sign for his standing in the organization.
Veteran outside linebacker Lamarr Houston is working out for the Saints on Tuesday, a source tells Tom Pelissero of USA Today (on Twitter). Houston has a history with defensive coordinator Dennis Allen from his time as the Raiders’ head coach.
Houston was released by the Bears from IR earlier this month. He had two ACL tears in the past and a new knee injury was holding him back in 2017. The good news is that the new injury is not all that severe. The two sides parted ways with a short two-week injury settlement, a sign that Houston should be ready to go right away.
The Saints could certainly use a player like Houston. Through two games, they have allowed an average of 512.5 yards. They’re also 0-2 with losses to the Vikings and Patriots.
Peterson, 32, saw action on only 15% of the Saints’ offensive snaps in Week 1, and while that percentage increased to 25% in Week 2 against the Patriots, Peterson hasn’t been a major contributor for New Orleans through two games. On 14 rushing attempts, Peterson has managed only 44 yards and has received just one target in the passing game.
The Saints trailed early and often in each of their two games this season, meaning that Peterson — and his limited receiving/pass-blocking ability — wasn’t needed on the field. Positive game scripts will likely be required for Peterson to regularly see action, although his problems with running out of the shotgun formation shouldn’t come into play. Through two contests, the Saints have used shotgun on 39% of plays, 3% fewer than league average, per SharpFootballStats.com.
The Cardinals, who recently lost star running back David Johnson for the foreseeable future, have been mentioned as a hypothetical trade partner for the Saints and Peterson. However, dealing Peterson would create $2.5MM and $1.25MM in dead money for New Orleans over the next two campaigns, respectively.
September 17th, 2017 at 6:19pm CST by Sam Robinson
Brandin Cooks faced his former team today, in a Patriots rout in New Orleans, but some additional details emerged on why he spent time in the visitors’ locker room.
The Saints dealt the fourth-year wide receiver for a first-round pick because of Cooks’ issues with his role in New Orleans’ offense and his doubts about the team’s future, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports.
Cooks expressed doubt Drew Brees, who is now in his age-38 season, could continue to get him the ball deep, per Rapoport. And the Saints were skeptical of the 23-year-old’s status as a No. 1 wide receiver. Rapoport notes Cooks was going to want to be paid like a No. 1 receiver, and the Saints were not prepared to authorize that kind of contract for the deep threat despite his back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons.
A late-season meeting between Cooks and Sean Payton did little to clear the air, Rapoport reports, and the organization did not like what it perceived to be a self-over-team mindset from the talented pass-catcher. Payton told Cooks, who voiced frustration (the “closed mouths don’t get fed” comment) after going catchless in a 49-21 win over the Rams last November, he would see a target increase. Nevertheless, Cooks voicing his frustrations about his stat line following a blowout win rubbed some with the Saints the wrong way, per Rapoport.
And the wideout tied a season-high with seven receptions the following week. Despite Michael Thomas‘ emergence, Cooks saw at least eight targets in 10 games last season and at least six in 14 contests.
While Cooks was pro-Brees in terms of his relationship with the quarterback, the future Hall of Fame passer’s arm strength was not something the receiver felt he could address on any level, Rapoport adds. Cooks had discussions along these lines with Payton, OC Pete Carmichael, then-wideouts coach John Morton and GM Mickey Loomis.
Interestingly, the soon-to-be 24-year-old performer is now playing with a 40-year-old quarterback and for a team notoriously stingy regarding big contracts. Cooks caught two passes for 37 yards in New England’s win in New Orleans.
Saints running back Adrian Peterson downplayed his frustration with playing time following his team’s season-opening loss to the Vikings. Despite video clips showing the veteran yelling at head coach Sean Payton, Peterson was clear that the entire situation was blown out of proportion.
September 15th, 2017 at 7:50pm CST by Connor Byrne
The Saints are discussing a Kenny Vaccaro trade with a “handful of teams,” according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. There’s potential for a deal to come together, adds La Canfora, who notes that the Saints are “overloaded” at safety (Twitter link).
Vaccaro was on the field for all 65 of the Saints’ snaps in their loss to the Vikings on Monday, showing that he remains a prominent part of their defense, but the team has heavily invested in his position lately. New Orleans spent second-round picks on safeties in each of the previous two drafts, selecting Vonn Bell in 2016 and Marcus Williams this year. And Vaccaro is scheduled to hit free agency after the season, further calling his future in New Orleans into question. Currently on a $5.68MM salary, Vaccaro has made it known that he wants to stay with the Saints, yet there haven’t been reports of any serious contract talks between the sides.
Now 27, Vaccaro has been one of the few consistently good parts of New Orleans’ defense since the club used a first-round pick on him in 2013. The former Texas Longhorn has started in 56 of 57 appearances and is attempting to build on a 2016 in which he ranked an above-average 38th in performance among Pro Football Focus’ 90 qualified safeties. Notably, Vaccaro did miss a quarter of last season on account of a suspension for Adderall use.