Last year, when the Saints were working out quarterbacks, the team tried its best to make sure it flew under the radar.
Measures were taken to time the trip when no one would be looking. It helped that there was a storm that caused a lot of flights to be canceled the day coach Sean Payton and team brass flew out of town to work out Garrett Grayson. They got in, got out and were hopeful no one noticed.
“We worked him out late last week and kind of went under the radar,” Payton said after last year’s draft, adding that he was happy there were no photos of him standing in line at Starbucks or eating at Subway during the visit. “We were kind of hoping it would.”
But there are few secrets when it comes to the draft. News of Grayson’s workout did leak. It also was reported that the team looked at other quarterbacks along the draft trail.
The evidence was there that the team was looking at the position. Most people just didn’t take the prospect of the Saints drafting a quarterback seriously, so the whole storyline flew under the radar.
New Orleans is again looking at quarterbacks, and sources told The Advocate that the Saints have met with or worked out a variety of prospects, from projected No. 1 pick Jared Goff down to Indiana’s Nate Sudfeld. Their intentions are not known, but it’s at least clear the Saints have spent a good amount of time scouting quarterbacks.
This isn’t much different from last year. What is different: These meetings have mostly been out in the open, away from the cloak of storms, shadows and silence.
After the Saints met with Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch at the combine, his agent, Leigh Steinberg, immediately posted the news on Twitter. The same thing happened after the team worked him out and later when it brought him in for a visit.
Are the Saints trying to create a smokescreen? Are they trying to create the impression they’re interested in Lynch, so a team trades to get in front of them to select the quarterback?
Is the interest real? Could the Saints just be making fewer efforts to conceal their interest?
Is it somehow related to Drew Brees? Do the Saints still have confidence in Grayson?
It could mean anything.
It could mean nothing.
With nothing else to focus on but the draft, things tend to get overanalyzed this time of year. I could sit here and try to answer each one of those questions, but it would be fruitless. There will be no answers until the draft ends.
There could be some logic in drafting another quarterback. A lot of that depends on what happens with Brees, who is entering the final year of his contract. If the organization feels it could be difficult to reach an extension, it would be irresponsible to not strongly consider the possibility.
And even if there is a belief that the Brees deal is close, it would still be irresponsible not to keep a close eye on the quarterbacks entering the league. That will remain true every offseason from now until the day Brees is no longer quarterback of the Saints.
The reality of the situation is that he’s 37. While he’s showing no signs of slowing down, the team needs to keep an eye on what’s behind the other doors, so it’s prepared to put together a succession plan when the time comes.
Maybe Grayson will end up being the answer. Maybe he won’t. It’s still too soon to answer that question. But this search should be ongoing, right up until there’s a clear successor ready and waiting to steal Brees’ throne.
It might be hard to admit, but there’s going to be a day when Brees is no longer an effective quarterback. It could happen gradually, which would give New Orleans ample time to prepare a succession plan. It could also come out of nowhere and be sudden and shocking.
Brees could be great one season and then struggle the next. Unfortunately, these situations play out beyond anyone’s control. Look what happened with Brett Favre: He had one of his best seasons in 2009 at the age of 40, then one of his worst seasons the next year — his last in the NFL.
The Saints need to be ready for that possibility. That should be obvious.
There’s no reason to try to hide from a reality everyone already knows to be true.