So far, 2017 has been a great year for New Orleans sports fans, and the city in general. The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl, the “Benson Towers” have been completed with the Pelicans pulling off the trade of the year for DeMarcus Cousins and it’s Mardi Gras!
Now, it’s the Saints turn. With free agency only a little a little more than two weeks away, the front office has already made several statements to indicate they will be attacking this offseason more aggressively than in time’s past. Deuce McAllister, who is still very close to the team and is now a color analyst for WWL 870, shared with us his thoughts for the Saints moving forward.
CSC: “First, I've heard you've partnered with Crown Royal this year, want to tell the fans a little bit more about that?”
Deuce: “It’s an opportunity to really help to clean up the city. You have to be thankful for Crown Royal, Gambino’s and the Arc of Greater New Orleans. It’s about giving back. You look at what Crown Royal is doing with their involvement, helping to purchase these king cakes from Gambino’s and raising funds to clean up the city.
What we’re going to be doing, from 2-8 on Saturday, we will have a pop up space out in front of Harrah’s. From 4-6 I will be there trading beads for king cakes. People can come hang out, listen to music, and I want the beads! We want to be able to donate these beads and help the Arc of Greater New Orleans. The Arc is a non-profit here in the City that helps individuals with disabilities. They will be re-selling the beads and the funds go to this non-profit.”
CSC: “Now, everyone knows New Orleans is the party capital of the world, but the biggest party I've ever been to had to be the post-Super Bowl party. What do you see as top priority this offseason? What's something they need to get done first to get back to Super Bowl?”
Deuce:”I think Coach Payton has been on the record of saying there are some deficiencies on defense. Now they still have some things offensively and on special teams they have to handle, but I think when you look at it from a priority stand point they have to get better on defense.
If they don’t get better from the defensive end stand point, you have to look at linebacker and corner. Those are three hot spots they have to get better at.”
CSC: “Everyone gets head-over-heels for the draft this time of year. It's all people talk about, but free agency is less than three weeks away and just as important. Got anyone you feel would really benefit the team?”
Deuce: “It really just depends on who they identify and how much they are willing to pay. This will be the first time in awhile they will have funding to be able to go after some of the top free agents and/or some of the mid level free agents. One thing is you hate to overpay for a player, but there are some elite defensive ends and players and the questions always becomes does this guy take us over budget.
You always have to marry the draft to free agency as well. It can be an opportunity where you sign a mid level guy and then draft a young guy. We don’t know what will happen with Jahri Evans - will he re-sign? Zach Strief is getting up there in age so there are some things you kind of have to address and be aware of [in both free agency and the draft].”
CSC: “The Pelicans just pulled off one of the biggest trades in recent NBA memory pairing Anthony Davis with DeMarcus Cousins. Do you think that is foreshadowing the Saints also being aggressive with this upcoming 2017 season?”
Deuce: “They will not be scared. If they feel if a person or a deal makes them better, they will do it. It’s the same thing with C.J. Spiller and Jairus Byrd. We didn’t get the bang for the buck for those players as far as immediate impact, but [the front office] will not be scared to go and get those type of players.
As far as the [Pelicans] Cousins’ deal, whether it’s the ownership structure with Mr. Benson or Mickey, they will not be afraid to pull the trigger on a big name player.”
CSC: “Can you help me settle a debate? I have fans coming to me every week, and I'm not kidding you, this is a constant thing, so I need your opinion. Is the LSU bias real with the Saints front office and Coach Payton? I don't think it exists, but maybe fans will trust your opinion more.”
Deuce: “Obviously, [fans] watch and see those players week in and week out just because of the proximity of Baton Rouge and New Orleans. When you see the success of these players and they are not a part of this organization, you have to question and wonder, but the Saints have always targeted these players. Some of them you just didn’t have the opportunity to take them.”
CSC: “Fans want all defense. They want to shore up this defense, but you and I both know that Sean, Jeff, Mickey and Company are going to have their eye on a new offensive piece. Who is that guy for you? Maybe an Evan Engram from a school you might be very familiar with?”
Deuce: “Well, I know they do like [Engram]. But, there are probably 31 teams that have some interest in him as well. He’s a joker and a wild card guy that teams have to prepare for. He’s obviously not going to be the strongest in-line blocker, but he is going to be a mismatch problem. Whether it’s him or a running back or returner, those are positions they have to get better at as well.
A lot we’ll be able to determine as far as what they can do in the draft is how well they do in free agency. Obviously free agency is very important to them, but to be able to add in some pieces through the draft is critical as well.”
CSC: “Who are your round 1 and round 2 guys right now? You get to make the decision, who are you taking?”
Deuce: “I would want to see what moves they would make in free agency first. Right now, it’s just too much speculation.”
CSC: “I know we're talking offensive weapons in the draft, and we just went over LSU, but recent mocks have had Leonard Fournette falling out of the top 10. While this might be unlikely to happen, should the Saints jump on Fournette if he's available or dangle him as trade bait?”
Deuce: “It’s going to be hard pressed for them to pass him up if he’s there. But, you’ve really got to see what they’ve done in free agency. Is he a luxury pick or do we pass him up because we have to take a defensive end or a corner here.
You want to put yourself in a position to take the best available player. If that’s Fournette, it’s going to be really interesting in that draft for just that thought process, because if you’ve taken care of your business early in free agency then you know Fournette can be a guy that you bring in and partner with Mark Ingram. You’re only going to extend Drew Brees’ career.”
CSC: “Ingram is still here at RB, regardless of what we do this offseason. If he keeps up his pace from the previous three seasons, he could run down some of your records in the next couple of years. What do you think of Mark?”
Deuce: “I still think you keep both [if you draft Fournette]. Big Mark is obviously a three down back, but to extend his career you could partner them together for three or five years. Mark has continually gotten better. He’s shown that he can catch out of the backfield, he’s shown he can pick up blitzes and things of that nature. He is the three down guy.
I think the biggest thing he’s been able to show is the patience as a runner and to be able to time different runs. He’s gotten better and better.”
CSC: “Way way way too early prediction: Saints 2017 record?”
Deuce: “It’s a make or break year. They have to really get into the playoffs, so if that’s a 10-6 record then that’s where they’re going to have to be. With two divisional rivals reaching the Super Bowl the past two years, not saying the Saints can’t do that, but they have got to figure out a way to get into the playoffs, or else.”
Make sure you go visit Deuce this Saturday at Harrah’s at the Crown Royal popup. Bring your beads, trade them in for a king cake from Gambino’s and a great cause! We’ll keep you up to date on this great project throughout the week. We also want to thank Crown Royal, Gambino’s and the Arc of Greater New Orleans for all the amazing things they are doing.
Below is the full interview with Deuce that you can listen to at your convenience.