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Saints Wisely Avoiding Past Stars In Free Agency

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Familiar faces to Who Dat Nation have been available in free agency this year, but the Saints have generally stayed away. Here's why this is a positive for the franchise.

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It's great for the fans, but nostalgia will kill a sports franchise.

Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints have been victims of nostalgia in recent seasons, attempting to resurrect the careers of wide receiver Robert Meachem and, most recently, center Jonathan Goodwin.  Payton, like many coaches before him, had tried to use former stars as crutches when new players were needed.  These players were productive stars in the past and there was hope that they still had "a little gas left in the tank" in order to provide a stop-gap solution a good price.

The Meachem and more notably, Goodwin acquisitions proved to be more of a sad realization of diminished skills and diminished returns, than a return to form.  It is perhaps these examples that have led the Saints front office to avoid recent free agents that have that nostalgia factor.  Three notable former Saints were/are free agents this offseason, and the Saints have avoided bringing them back into the fold, despite all three fulfilling areas of need.  They are:

RB - Reggie Bush - Saint from 2006 - 2010

WR - Lance Moore - Saint from 2005 - 2013

G - Carl Nicks - Saint from 2008 - 2011

All three of these players had seen their greatest career successes in New Orleans and all three were fan favorites (yes, even the maligned Reggie Bush).  Even though Bush recently signed with the San Francisco 49ers, he was expected to visit with the Saints and some fans were actually excited about the prospect.  Again, nostalgia.  Both Moore and Nicks are available, and again, there are segments of fans that want to bring back that nostalgia, but the Saints are wise to avoid the mistakes of the past.  The Saints actually seem poised to look toward the immediate future rather than the glories of the recent past.

When DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews joined the Philadelphia Eagles as free agent running backs last week, many Saints fans saw this as an opportunity to pine for the release or trade of former Saint Darren Sproles, in order for Sproles to return to the Saints.  Nostalgia, rearing its head again.  For as many great moments as Sproles created as a Saint, he also faded for long stretches, especially as the season went on.  He also has done this in Philly.

The Saints turning their focus to the younger, albeit more expensive, CJ Spiller shows a smarter change in philosophy, eschewing nostalgia for common sense.  There will be better options in the draft than Lance Moore at WR and Carl Nicks at guard.  Those options may not immediately be as good as these former Saints in their prime, but these former Saints are obviously far past their prime anyway.

I can't wait for Bush, Moore, and Nicks to all return to the Saints, to be inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame.  As players though, their time in New Orleans, while great, had run its course.  Thankfully, the Saints have realized that you can't move forward if you're constantly looking back.

Nostalgia.  There's a place for it, and it's not on the current roster.