Good things happen at the negotiating table when people let down their walls, take a second to appreciate the view from the other side and allow themselves to reach common ground.
That’s what happened Friday when the New Orleans Saints and Marques Colston reached an agreement to keep the wide receiver in New Orleans on a restructured deal, a source told The Advocate. The details of the agreement were not immediately known, but it should significantly reduce the $9.7 million Colston was previously set to count against the cap.
Fox Sports first reported the agreement.
This should be considered a win-win situation for all parties. For the Saints, they get to retain a player who can still be effective within the system and gain more relief against the salary cap. For Colston, he remains in the only offensive system he has known and does not have to start over somewhere new at the age of 31.
Even though he caught 59 passes for 902 yards with five touchdowns last season, Colston admittedly struggled at times. He dropped eight passes during the 7-9 campaign and had a costly fumble against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1 that played a part in the overtime loss.
“Putting the ball on the ground, that’s just something that I shouldn’t be doing,” he said in December. “I pride myself on trying to be part of the solution. Instead this year, I feel like I was part of the problem at times.”
“It’s not a secret I didn’t play up to my own standards,” he added. “I’ve got to live with that.”
The Saints will be happy to keep living with Colston. Despite some perceived struggles, he was one of the team’s more productive players on offense. His 902 receiving yards ranked second behind Kenny Stills’ 931 and his 15.3 yards per reception were the highest on the team among players who caught 10 or more passes.
Losing him would have created a hole in the offense and taken away one of Drew Brees’ more trusted targets without an obvious replacement in place. By retaining Colston, New Orleans keeps in place most of the key pieces from a passing attack that finished third in the NFL with 4,764 passing yards.
And the argument can be made that the offense should be even better next season. Rookie wide receiver Brandin Cooks was limited to 10 games last season by a thumb injury and should continue to grow in his second season, and tight end Jimmy Graham disappeared down the stretch as the effective of a shoulder injury slowly wore him down.
With the benefit of health, Brees should have more targets to choose from, which would allow Colston to serve more as a piece of the attack instead of being relied upon to act as a cornerstone. Young players such as Nick Toon, Seantavius Jones and Brandon Coleman also could take on larger roles in the offense next season.
For the Saints, it’s difficult to know how good this deal is for them without knowing the exact details, but gaining financial relief while retaining an important player has to be considered a victory.
Before this move was made, New Orleans was more than $15 million over the salary cap. In an effort to get in compliance with the cap by Tuesday, the start of the league year, the team already has made some difficult decisions, including the release of running back Pierre Thomas, which saved it $1.735 million against the salary cap.
The Saints also have decisions to make on cornerback Corey White, guards Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans, and linebackers David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton.
If Colston had balked about restructuring his contract, he could have ended up on the same side of the equation as Thomas. Now, instead, he’ll be able to stick around with the organization where he ranks as the career leader in receiving touchdowns (68), receptions (666) and receiving yards (9,239).
That’s a win-win situation.