The Saints spent the week getting to know a couple of the draft’s more interesting prospects.
The team had Washington cornerback Marcus Peters in town for a visit Monday and met with Nebraska pass rusher Randy Gregory on Tuesday, according to sources. The team also met with UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks, Washington State defensive tackle Xavier Cooper and UCLA defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa this week.
Gregory and Peters are considered to be two of the more talented players in the draft, but they have red flags surrounding them. Gregory tested positive for marijuana at February’s scouting combine, and Peters was dismissed from the Washington program in November because of differences with the coaching staff.
Gregory told NFL.com that he stopped smoking in December and failed due to having high THC levels. He’ll need to convince teams that his issues are behind him and he can steer clear of trouble.
Peters smoothed over his issues with the Washington coaching staff and was invited to participate in the school’s pro day, after which he met with the Saints. He explained that the rift developed during the transition from previous coach Steve Sarkisian to new coach Chris Petersen.
Upon arrival, Gregory created some fireworks by writing on his Twitter account that he did not understand all the hype behind the city of New Orleans.
“(I don’t know) what the big deal about New Orleans is,” he wrote. “Seems pretty boring to me (laugh out loud) wrong time of year maybe?”
He later noted that his tweet was not directed toward the team. Gregory traded light-hearted barbs with fans who took offense and then tweeted a picture of the Saints’ Super Bowl trophy with the hash tag “#reasonswhyilovenola they have championships.”
After leaving Jacksonville without a deal, Greg Jennings’ free-agent tour will head to New Orleans.
The veteran wide receiver, who was released by the Vikings in March two years into a five-year, $45 million contract, will next meet with the Saints, according to the NFL Network.
Jennings has visited the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins.
The 31-year-old caught 59 passes for 742 yards with six touchdowns last season.
New Orleans is restocking its offense after trading wide receiver Kenny Stills and tight end Jimmy Graham this offseason. The Saints recently signed wide receiver Joe Morgan to a one-year deal.
Bill Polian said he doesn’t think the Saints are going to stand pat and let the draft come to them.
With nine picks in the draft and three in the first 44 picks, the former Bills, Panthers and Colts general manager and current ESPN analyst expects New Orleans to be aggressive in the draft and go after the players it wants. Polian especially expects this to be the case if defensive players start flying off the board before the Saints come on the clock for the 13th pick.
“I’m not sure they’re going to stand pat,” Polian said during a conference call. “I think they have ammunition to move up, and it’s ... possible they’d do so, particularly if the key defensive players start to come off the board early. That’s the reason for trying to move up.”
Polian said he likes the moves the Saints made this offseason — even if some difficult decisions had to be made to get the salary cap in order.
“While you hate to lose a player of Jimmy Graham’s caliber, you want to try to see if you can’t create a defense that’s very reliable. And I think in their mind, that’s job No. 1. However they do that in draft — either standing pat or moving around — I think that’s where their focus is going to be.”
No ring on it
The Anthony Spencer signing carries minimal financial risk for the Saints.
The pass rusher’s one-year deal comes with an $870,000 base salary and an $80,000 signing bonus. The deal qualifies for the minimum benefit, meaning it counts only $655,000 against the salary cap.
Spencer spent the first eight years of his career with the Dallas Cowboys, where he collected 497 tackles, 33 sacks, and 12 forced fumbles.
It’s a situation the Saints can walk away from at minimum cost if things do not work out.