Since his arrival in New Orleans in 2006, Saints coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis have made several trades during the draft that have benefited them down the road.
They made only one deal this year, moving up seven spots in the first round to select receiver Brandin Cooks at No. 20. For now, they can only hope that turns out as well as some of their other maneuvers.
To make sure they got a shot at Cooks, the Saints sent their third-round draft pick (No. 91) to Arizona. Loomis said it wasn’t an inexpensive deal, but both he and Payton felt it was worth it — especially if it works out like some of the other decisions they’ve made while the clock is ticking.
Here are the best of the best deals they’ve executed during the draft since they started working together (in chronological order):
2006: Deals yield defensive mainstays
The Saints made a pair of shrewd deals, moving down nine spots in the second and fourth rounds to acquire two veteran players. They got center Jeff Faine from the Browns in the second round and defensive tackle Hollis Thomas from the Eagles in the fourth. Both were starters on Payton’s first team that went 10-6 and advanced to the NFC title game.
2008: An unexpected benefit
Executing a trade to move up three spots in the first round, the Saints benefitted more from the back end of the deal that sent their first- (10th) and third-round picks (78th) to the Patriots for Nos. 7 and 164 (fifth round). They picked defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis first and got Carl Nicks, who was a two-time Pro Bowler before leaving in free agency two years ago, in the fifth.
2009: Boot ’em outta here
In perhaps their best draft trade, the Saints acquired a fifth-round pick (No. 164) from the Eagles for a seventh-rounder (222nd) that year and fifth-round selection in 2010. They used the 164th pick to grab punter Thomas Morstead, who quickly became one of the game’s best punters and kickoff men.
2011: Moving up for Mark
The jury is still out on a deal the Saints made to get back into the first round after selecting defensive end Cameron Jordan. They sent their first-round pick in 2012 (which turned out to be No. 27) and 2011 second-round pick to the Patriots to get running back Mark Ingram, who has shown flashes while battling injuries in his three seasons.
2013: All on the line
The Saints traded the 106th and 109th picks in the fourth round to get a third-round pick from the Dolphins (No. 82) to select nose tackle John Jenkins after getting left tackle Terron Armstead seven picks earlier. The Saints believe Armstead and Jenkins will anchor their offensive and defensive lines for years to come.