I see that look on your face, and I know what you're thinking— could the Saints actually draft a quarterback with their first pick on Thursday? It sounds crazy, but, for those of you who think it’s a bad move, I have news for you.
Yes, yes they actually could do that.
Even potentially more head scratching is the fact that it looks they WILL draft him, despite the fact New Orleans isn’t really in the market for a QB at the moment. It appears the Saints may be smitten with the Memphis product, as prior to the Los Angeles Rams moving up to the #1 spot, the Saints were apparently in play for the top pick and had every intention of drafting Paxton Lynch with it, according to NFL.com.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that New Orleans staged internal talks about moving up to No. 1 before the Los Angeles Rams swung a monster deal with the Titans for the first overall pick. The terms of that swap proved too costly for the Saints, but could they have their eye on Paxton Lynch out of Memphis?
Of course, ESPN refuted this report, thanks to Mike Triplett, stating the Saints never had any intentions of trading. In fact, Triplett even said the Saints were more likely to move down in the draft. Based on this, you can believe what you want when it comes to the rumors of the Saints trying to move up to the top spot.
ICYMI: Source said Saints had no talks about trading to No.1. If anything theyll move down. But there is QB interest https://t.co/i8gpi5gDQC— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) April 26, 2016
It is also being said in NFL circles that both the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets want Lynch, but will "most likely have to trade up to take him," a clear indicator that if he’s available at #12, New Orleans may snatch him up.
Browns, Bills, Jets and Broncos are being talk about potential landing spots for Paxton Lynch in recent weeks. #NFLDraft2016— Brian Witherspoon (@Spoony29) April 27, 2016
On the surface, it seems crazy. After all, New Orleans had the worst defense in football last season and in a draft littered with potentially elite future defensive players, you would be crazy not to go after at least a few of these guys to bolster the front-7. There is also the fact that the Saints have a QB, his name is Drew Brees and he played just fine last year, despite battling through a few injuries.
On the flip side, however, the Saints don’t necessarily have the heir-apparent to Brees, as it is widely reported Garrett Grayson’s progression has been disappointing, a sign New Orleans wants to part ways with him. And, while there are a bevy of talented defensive players, there are also a sizable number of quarterbacks coming out in this year’s draft, a few of which have the potential to be future faces of the league. If your plan is to build for the future, and one of those few is still available, those prospects may be too enticing to pass up on.
Also, take into account the contract issues the Saints are having with Drew Brees. Financially handcuffed this offseason thanks to his hearty deal, fans were widely expecting Brees to extend said deal and lessen the cap heaviness of the contract. That hasn’t happened yet and more than a few people in the Saints’ front offices may be concerned. Experts have long predicted the Saints will try and dump off the aging QB and his large deal on another team. While that hasn’t happened yet, never say never, although Brees has recently expressed desire to extend and stay with New Orleans on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
The quarterback said, "I’m very confident that it will [get done]. I’ve got one year left, so it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t and we play through the year. I did that back in 2011. I’d rather not do that."
While Brees may be looking to use his salary this season as possible leverage to gain a huge new deal next season, the battle that could ensue between the two sides makes Paxton Lynch that much more of an attractive offer to New Orleans. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk says that the Saints could use Brees as a "stop-gap" for 2016, then handing the reigns over to Lynch the following year.
It all boils down to what the Saints’ plans are going forward. If they want to win now, then they draft defense and shore up their biggest weakness from last season. Drafting defense also benefits in the log run, as you have young players going forward that can make an impact in the future. If the Saints plan on phoning it in this season and solely building for the future, then they take the quarterback at 12, if he's available, of course.
At this point, though, it’s all speculation. Nobody knows what the Saints plan on doing come Thursday, except for those important enough to be privy to that information. For the rest of us, we will just have to wait and see what happens on Thursday, worrying the whole time that they don’t make a grave mistake and waste their top pick.