Over the last three years, general manager Mickey Loomis and the New Orleans Saints have made headlines in free agency by kicking the veritable salary cap can down the road, year after year. In 2014, the Saints shockingly signed the highly sought-after free agent safety Jairus Byrd to a long-term, big-money contract. Byrd played in four games in that season before being put on injured reserve for a torn lateral meniscus.
The next year, Loomis stepped up his free agency splash game with signings of cornerback Brandon Browner and versatile running back C.J. Spiller. Arguably, Browner may go down as the single worst free agent signing of the Mickey Loomis era, as he became the most penalized player in any single season and commented on social media site Instagram that he took the Saints money and ran. Browner quickly deleted the comment but not before the Twitter junkies could get a snapshot.
Spiller, on the other hand, became another in a long line of Saints big name free agents who couldn’t crack the starting lineup. Spiller was supposed to be the replacement for Darren Sproles, who had been traded to the Philadelphia Eagles following the 2013 season. He would not even remotely last long as Spiller, who would not even suit up for the first game of the 2016 season before being released on Sept. 13.
In 2016, Loomis was no different in the free agency market. With even less money to work, with he managed to sign tight end Coby Fleener to a high-priced contract in the hopes he would be the replacement for Jimmy Graham, who was dealt in a blockbuster trade to the Seattle Seahawks in 2015. Fleener has yet to prove he can be the versatile receiving threat that Jimmy Graham was as a tight end, it is still early in the contract and if he can improve on his dropped passes Fleener does have the skill-set to be a top tier receiving tight end.
The 2017 offseason has come early once again for the New Orleans Saints with another 7-9 season. This year, the Saints will have the money and resources to make another splash in free agency. But if the last three years are any indication of the Saints talent evaluation, then the Saints are better off making low-budget, low-risk free agent signings.