Saints Rumors

Saints Not Planning To Match Ravens’ Willie Snead Offer Sheet

After four years in New Orleans, Willie Snead looks like he will head north. The Saints are not planning to match the Ravens’ offer sheet, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link), which will send the RFA wide receiver to Baltimore.

The Ravens only submitted this two-year offer sheet on Friday, but as of Saturday, it doesn’t look like the Saints are planning to retain Snead. This could have been expected after the Saints signed Cameron Meredith to a two-year, $9.6MM RFA offer sheet and agreed to bring back Brandon Coleman. This seemingly locks in a 2018 top four of Michael Thomas/Ted Ginn/Meredith/Coleman and left Snead without a surefire role.

He figures to have one with the Ravens, who continue to overhaul their receiving corps. The 25-year-old pass-catcher joins Michael Crabtree and John Brown as new Raven receivers, and this could well affect the franchise’s potential pursuit of Dez Bryant. Thus far, they’ve been the only team to express interest in the former Cowboys Pro Bowler.

Although, this two-year, $7MM deal, with some incentives, would have been a major discount based on Snead’s 2015 and ’16 seasons. But after a vast production dip in 2017 (eight receptions, 92 yards), Snead will earn a raise nonetheless. This through-2019 contract could double as an audition for Snead, who was negotiating with the Saints for a new deal last offseason. But he’ll be departing the league’s most consistent passing attack for one that hasn’t enjoyed as much success in recent years, so it will be interesting to see how Baltimore pieces together its new-look aerial group.

The former UDFA’s best work came during his age-23 and age-24 seasons, when he totaled 141 receptions for 1,895 yards and seven touchdowns between them. The Ravens are obviously hoping he can move closer to that form instead of the one that relegated him to a surprising afterthought in 2017.

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QB Luke McCown Retires From NFL

Longtime NFL quarterback Luke McCown is calling it quits. On Friday, the 36-year-old announced his retirement from football.

Today I am officially retiring from the NFL,” McCown wrote. “It’s bittersweet to leave the game I love and the craft I’ve worked at since the second grade.”

McCown first entered the league as a fourth-round pick of the Browns in 2004. He started in four games as a rookie for Cleveland before a draft weekend deal shipped him to Tampa Bay. He did not see the field for the Bucs until 2007, when he made three starts for the team. Between ’07 and ’15, McCown started only three more contests.

Even though he didn’t see much playing time over the years, McCown earned enough on contracts with the Browns, Bucs, Jaguars, Saints, Falcons, and Cowboys to retire comfortably. We wish the QB and former Verizon spokesperson the best in the next chapter of his life.

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La Canfora On Draft, Raiders, Miller, Patriots

UCLA tackle Kolton Miller could be a target for the Raiders if they trade down from the No. 10 overall pick, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com hears. However, they probably can’t move back all that far if they hope to land him. Evaluators and offensive line coaches that have spoken with JLC believe that Miller – and not Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey – is the best tackle in this year’s class. Plenty of teams in the teens are eyeing the 6’9″ prospect and McGlinchey is more likely to go in the late teens or early 20s, La Canfora hears. The Lions at No. 20 could be Miller’s floor as they would plug him in on the right side.

Here’s more draft buzz from JLC:

  • The Patriots are entertaining the possibility of moving up in the teens if the right quarterback falls, La Canfora writes. The Dolphins and Bills are exploring QBs at Nos. 11 and 12, so the Raiders could potentially find value by trading down from No. 10. Josh Rosen, in JLC’s estimation, appears to be the most likely of the big four QBs to slide. I’d agree with that assessment as the Browns, Giants, and Jets are reportedly not high on the UCLA product.
  • The Broncos say they are open to moving down from No. 5 and JLC believes that linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is very much on their radar. The likely trade scenario, he believes, would see the Bills moving up to get Josh Rosen if Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield come off of the board in the top four. The Bills own the Nos. 12 and 22 picks in the draft.
  • The Bengals at No. 21 could be the floor for Arkansas center Frank Ragnow. Ragnow is climbing up boards around the league and has a good chance of going in the first round.
  • The Ravens are looking for a tight end, but they would rather not select one at No. 16. La Canfora hears that the Ravens, ideally, would like to move down 5-7 spots to get South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst. The Ravens can’t go too far, however, with the Saints sitting at No. 27.
  • Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who won’t turn 20 until after the draft, is a lock to go in the top 10, JLC hears. He also wouldn’t be shocked to see him go as high as No. 6 overall, depending on how the first five picks shake out.
  • Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan could go just outside the top 10 and JLC believes his worst case scenario is No. 26.
  • Florida state defensive lineman Josh Sweat could sneak into the late first round and seems very possible for the second round.

Ravens Sign WR Willie Snead To Offer Sheet

Saints restricted free agent wide receiver Willie Snead is signing an offer sheet with the Ravens, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a two-year, $7MM offer sheet with another $3.4MM in incentives. The deal also includes a $2MM signing bonus. Per league rules, the Saints have five days to match. 

This week, Snead reported to the Saints even though he did not have a deal in place with the team. Some took this as a sign that his market in restricted free agency hadn’t drawn much in the way of interest but, apparently, he did draw a sizable offer sheet from at least one team. Friday marks the deadline for RFAs to sign offer sheets and the Ravens have put the squeeze on the Saints at the buzzer.

Snead was tendered at the lowest level this offseason, giving the Saints the right to match any offer sheet. However, they will not receive any draft compensation in that event. Snead now stands to earn a significant bump over his one-year, $1.907MM placeholder, regardless of what the Saints do over the next five days.

The Saints will probably take their time in making a call on Snead, but it would be a surprise to see them match. After inking another RFA in former Bear Cameron Meredith, New Orleans will probably allow Snead to walk.

Meanwhile, for the Ravens, the move is an indication that they will not be signing Dez Bryant. The Ravens were among the clubs with interest, but they may have sensed that Bryant is on the verge of signing elsewhere.

Snead, 26 in October, was not a major contributor in the Saints™ offense last year. However, he averaged 70 catches for 940 yards and four touchdowns over the previous two seasons. Last year, as an exclusive rights free agent, he pushed for a better deal and didn’€™t get it. Now, based off of past performance and potential, he’ll be moving up a level.

The Ravens have upgraded their wide receiver stable by adding Michael Crabtree and John Brown in March. Neither Chris Moore nor Breshad Perriman did a whole lot last season, so the Ravens are looking to provide Joe Flacco with another weapon. The addition of Snead would give the Ravens a formidable trio at receiver and allow them to focus on other areas in the draft.

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Saints RB Mark Ingram Changes Agents

Saints running back Mark Ingram is entering a contract year, and he’ll now have a new agent to work out his next deal. Ingram has hired VIP Sports Management to replace Joel Segal of Lagardere Sports and Entertainment, according to Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com.

Ingram will earn a base salary of $4MM in 2018, but he could have potentially become a free agent this offseason. The 28-year-old Ingram’s contract contains a clause that would have voided the final year of the deal had he been named as a first-team All-Pro. That didn’t happen, as Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell were the NFL’s All-Pros at running back and “flex,” respectively.

Although he didn’t earn All-Pro honors, Ingram still posted arguably the best campaign of his seven-year career. Pairing with dynamic rookie Alvin Kamara, Ingram managed career-highs in carries (230), yards (1,124), rushing touchdowns (12), and receptions (58). Ingram ranked seventh in Football Outsiders‘ DVOA, meaning he was effective on a per-play basis, and also finished as a top-15 pass-blocker among running backs, per Pro Football Focus.

Ingram was excellent last season, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to cash in next spring. Not only will he be entering his age-29 campaign, but the running back market hasn’t seen a significant price jump since Ingram signed his last contract. New Orleans’ interest in re-signing Ingram is also unclear, especially since the club may believe Kamara can be an every-down back.

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Saints To Re-Sign WR Brandon Coleman

The Saints have agreed to re-sign wide receiver Brandon Coleman, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Coleman was scheduled to hit restricted free agency last month, but New Orleans non-tendered him rather than offer him a contract. An original round tender — the cheapest of the RFA tags — would have cost the Saints just $1.907MM, so they’ve presumably re-signed Coleman at an even cheaper rate.

Exactly how often Coleman will be called on to contribute during the upcoming season is unclear, as the Saints have improved their wide receiving corps over the past month. New Orleans landed Cameron Meredith after inking the former Bear to a restricted offer sheet, one which Chicago declined to match. He’ll likely act as the Saints’ slot receiver between Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr., so Coleman is — at best — the club’s fourth wideout.

Coleman, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers in 2014, has never been all that productive while catching passes from Drew Brees. His target share and overall reception total decreased in each of his three full seasons with the Saints, and he was never able to top 30 receptions or 500 receiving yards during his first go-round with the team.

But there are reasons to be somewhat optimistic about Coleman’s future, and his large stature is one of them. Coleman stands 6’6″ and 225 pounds, meaning he nearly has the frame of a tight end. That size hasn’t contributed to production out of the slot thus far, but Coleman is still only 25 years old. Coleman also fared well in Football Outsiders’ DYAR, which measures value over a replacement-level player — among the 71 wideouts with fewer than 50 receptions in 2017, Coleman ranked a respectable 13th in DYAR.

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NFL Draft Rumors: Cowboys, Key, Bills

Wednesday marks the final day for NFL draft visits, and we have some notable ones to pass along. Here’s the latest NFL Draft news:

  • LSU linebacker/defensive end Arden Key worked out with the Cowboys on Tuesday and met with the Saints on Wednesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans is visiting the Bills and Texas tackle Connor Williams is visiting the Packers, Rapoport tweets.
  • The Patriots are hosting Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley on a pre-draft visit, a source tells Rapoport (on Twitter). The Patriots aren’t known for taking receivers in the first round, but Ridley could be an exception as they look to rebuild that group. Ridley also visited the Bears on Tuesday.
  • Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore seems to be a firm first round prospect, according to Rapoport (on Twitter). For a while, Moore appeared to be a fringe first/second round type, so his stock is improving as the draft draws near. Moore met with the Bills, who pick No. 12 and 22, on Wednesday.
  • Ohio State center Billy Price will meet with the Seahawks, Alex Marvez of SiriusXM tweets. Price is recovering from a torn pectoral muscle he suffered during the bench press at the combine. The good news is that Price is expected to be ready in time for training camp.

Former Saints CB Keenan Lewis Seeking Settlement

Willie Snead Reports To Saints

Willie Snead‘s status for 2018 remains uncertain, but he is proceeding as though he’ll be with the Saints in 2018. On Monday, the wide receiver reported to the team for workouts, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Snead was tendered by New Orleans at the lowest level this offseason, giving the Saints the right to match any offer sheet he signs (but no draft compensation). The wide receiver auditioned for the Ravens recently, but did not sign a deal with them. For now, he remains in limbo, but he could be getting close to signing his one-year, $1.907MM placeholder with the Saints.

Snead, 26 in October, was hardly a factor in the Saints™ offense last year. However, he averaged 70 catches for 940 yards and four touchdowns over the previous two seasons. Last year, as an exclusive rights free agent, he pushed for an improved contract and didn’€™t get it. He’s a long way from that big-money contract he wanted, but he could restore his value this year and look for a better payday next March.

The Saints added Cameron Meredith to their receiver group this offseason, meaning that Snead will have to fight for targets behind Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., Meredith, and Tommylee Lewis. On the plus side, quarterback Drew Brees tends to spread the ball around and the Saints did not land the high-end receiving threat they were seeking at tight end.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Dez Bryant

There are four teams that “some believe could show varying levels of interest” in wideout Dez Bryant, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). This grouping includes the Cardinals, Ravens, Bills, and Packers.

The reporter notes that Arizona’s main issue is related to money, as the team is sitting with little cap room. Kent Somers of AZCentral Sports echoes that sentiment (via Twitter), saying the Cardinals won’t pursue Bryant unless he’s willing to take a lesser contract. On the flip side, Schefter observes that the Ravens still have plenty of space, even after having signed receiver Michael Crabtree. Meanwhile, the Packers could be looking for a big-play wideout to replace Jordy Nelson, while the Bills could be looking for a dynamic receiver to pair with Kelvin Benjamin.

The three-time Pro Bowler was released by Dallas yesterday. No teams have definitively been connected to the 29-year-old, although Bryant indicated that he’d like to play for one of the Cowboys’ NFC East foes.

Let’s take a look at some other notes pertaining to the NFL’s newest star free agent…

  • ESPN’s Mike Triplett believes the Saints could be a “dark horse contender” for Bryant. New Orleans has focused on improving their receiving core, but they missed out on offseason targets like Nelson and tight end Jimmy Graham. The Saints aren’t armed with a lot of salary cap space, so they’re presumably in a similar situation to the Cardinals. However, there’s no denying that Bryant would provide Drew Brees with another impressive target.
  • Bryant was under the impression that some of his teammates and coaches had it out for him, and he believes the lack of support ultimately played a role in his release. “I’m not here to bash anybody, but they know, man,” Bryant told Jane Slater of NFL Network (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “They know. They know. The way this whole situation got handled, I felt like I asked some of them to be a man about some of the situations a long time ago, and they couldn’t…I won’t put no names out, but they know, and I want them to know on this air I know. I’ll shoot them a text message and let them know. Little do they know is they can wear that ‘C’ [for captain] all they want to, but in that locker room, they know who they run and they talk to. They know who they communicate with. Everybody know where the real love is at, and I’m not throwing anybody under the bus, but that’s the difference between me and them.” Williams notes that last season’s captains were Jason WittenDak PrescottDan BaileyTyrone CrawfordSean Lee and Orlando Scandrick.
  • Meanwhile, ESPN.com’s Todd Archer attributes Bryant’s release to “his falling production and “fiery” personality.” As the reporter notes, the “cracks in the relationship” started earlier this offseason, when Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones criticized the receiver’s sideline outbursts. When you couple the attitude with a drop in production, Archer says organizations will have “a difficult time looking the other way.”