“I want to play for the Saints. I love the team,” Vaccaro said. “I love coach (Sean) Payton. Coach Payton is going to be here. We got a good young team. I think we’re a couple of pieces away from getting to back to where we were my rookie year. I don’t want to leave that. The grass isn’t always greener.”
Kenny Vaccaro obviously would prefer nothing more than to finish out his career as a New Orleans Saints. However, he hasn’t quite given the Saints a reason to feel the same. Despite quotes like the one above the organization has been relatively quiet on that front and to an extent they have merit.
Vaccaro started out with a bang his rookie year, but after getting injured he followed it up with a mediocre 2nd year campaign due to not being fully recovered. His 3rd year saw him get back to form and looked to set him up for a big 4th season with the Saints. Unfortunately, the guy who is known as the enforcer in the secondary found himself suspended for the final four games because of taking Adderall - a substance banned by the NFL as its believed to be a performance enhancer.
Inconsistency and poor decision making have plagued Vaccaro his entire tenure with the Saints. Along with the aforementioned woes above, he recently drew the ire of Drew Brees in practice for slapping the ball out of the QB’s hand.
"That happened a few times in that period. You know, listen, it was competitive. It was a third-down period, so you're keeping score, it's competitive. (But) obviously you have rules for safety purposes, you don't want guys hitting your arm when you're throwing. That's not smart. That's not safe. So when it happens, you know, I mean, I understand it's going to happen from time to time, which it did. So, whatever. You move on."
I think it’s fair to say that he isn’t the most disciplined person, and I’m fine with that, but that’s only half of what’s working against him returning to the black and gold. The Saints also drafted Vonn Bell in the 2nd round last year and the young Safety has been referred to as a carbon copy of Vaccaro.
Bell, meanwhile, is similar to Vaccaro, Glenn said. Bell might be faster and a little smaller, but he said the two players offer similar traits. That explains why one of the Saints' top three-safety looks includes Vaccaro covering the slot and Bell playing strong safety.
Combine that with the drafting of Marcus Williams to play free safety and P.J. Williams getting work at nickel corner, and the 5th year safety’s value to the team will be lower than what it was roughly 2 years ago. Since he won’t be pigeon holed into the slot this year he’ll be free to make plays, and if he does he’ll successfully price himself out of range. It would be cheaper for them to re-sign Sterling Moore and continue to develop Arthur Maulet in combination with retaining P.J. Williams. That’s 3 players capable of playing the slot, and it will be hard to keep Bell and Marcus Williams off the field at the other two safety positions.
With all of that being said, I just don’t see any way they could bring him back. Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong and he’ll get a contract extension prior to the season, but just from a business standpoint it would be smarter to wait and see how he finishes the year.
5 times the Saints got out of their own way this offseason
I’m a big believer in fate and timing so I didn’t miss these random “it was meant to be” moments where the Saints got out of their own way this offseason.
- Last year, the Saints drafted Sheldon Rankins and then doubled back to trade up and select David Onyemata. They did this because Nick Fairley at the time was on a 1-year contract and they had no way of knowing how he would perform. In essence, it was done to make them Fairley proof. In the end, Fairley had a heck of a year and the Saints signed him to a multi-year deal. What they didn't know was it would soon be revealed he was dealing with a heart issue that would cause them to lose him for the season. This is important for the Saints from a moral standpoint because of how much of a disaster this could have been if Fairley would have collapsed on the football field. It would have been an absolute PR nightmare along with the simple fact this man just became a father, and it would have possibly left a child without a dad. The Saints are extremely lucky this was caught, and while they lost a few million, they gained a good bit of respect by pulling the trigger on sitting him for the season and ensuring he could live a healthy life moving forward.
- The Saints flirted with pulling the trigger on a trade for Malcolm Butler earlier this offseason, and likely would not have had the 2017 draft fall in their favor. After expecting to nab Patrick Mahomes, they watched as the Chiefs traded up with the Bills to select him causing the #1 CB in the draft to drop right into their lap. This is significant because the Bills were the team who would have threatened to take Lattimore. This all but canceled Christmas on seeing Butler ending up in the black and gold, and simultaneously saved the Saints a pretty penny in the process. The 2nd round pick the Saints were going to use to get Butler ended up turning into Marcus Williams, who has been lighting it up in camp. I'll take Lattimore and Williams as young pillars of this defense over just one player as football is and always will be a team sport.
- Speaking of the draft, how embarrassing is it to be on the phone with a prospect telling him ‘Welcome to New Orleans’ only to have a team trade up and nab him as he politely hangs up in your face to accept the call? This is exactly what happened to the Saints on draft night as they were poised to take Alabama LB Reuben Foster at 32, and they would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those pesky 49ers. They settled on taking Ryan Ramczck much to the ire of fans only to have Terron Armstead go down a few months later during OTAs. Timing I tell you, as this was also aided by the fact that they watched the Falcons trade up and select Takkarist McKinley, another target just a few picks before Foster. Foster has gone on to re-injure the exact same shoulder that caused him to miss the combine and while he's managed to continue playing you have to wonder how likely is it the injury will haunt him all season. Considering the fact that he's a LB and you know, has to use that shoulder for tackling, I'd have to say that the Saints avoided tripping over their own shoes on this one. Twice!
- The Saints recently fired two doctors for
misdiagnosingmissing the diagnosis on Delvin Breaux's fibula. Whatever you want to call it, it was another one of those things that needed to happen judging by reactions from former players like Chris Chamberlain and Keenan Lewis. With Sean Payton looking terrible for wanting to trade away Breaux because he thought he was milking an injury, someone had to take his place, and the results were the doctors ending up as free agents. Meanwhile, I'm sure Payton had to show some humility and address not only Breaux, but also the team. This, I think, was a good thing, because it endears him to the players. New Orleans hasn't played like a team since 2013 and these are the type of events that can build chemistry and cohesiveness in the locker room which then carries over to the field.
- Going back to draft night, did you know that Sean Payton considered taking Alvin Kamara with the 2nd round pick the Saints used to select Williams? Yep, Sean nearly got ahead of himself and potentially passed on Utah safety for the uber talented back out of Tennessee. Fortunately for the Saints, this never took place and discussions in the war room deterred him from that decision. We ended up with Williams + Kamara, and while it cost us a 2nd round pick next year, we helped the team by getting someone who could assist with keeping the D rested and off the field in Kamara AND nabbing a guy who can force more turnovers that put a potent offense back on the field in Marcus Williams.
Under the Lights: 3 Saints Players to watch in Saturday’s game vs. the Texans
He’s set to be the starting LCB in base, coupled with moonlighting in the slot in nickel situations. He was selected in the 2015 draft with the 3rd round pick the Saints received from Miami in the Kenny Stills trade. Williams has played in just 2 games since, while Stills has earned a 2nd contract after playing in all 32 games he was eligible for. Being that the trade was made with the intent of bolstering the defense the Saints are hoping that P.J. will continue to develop and live up to his lofty potential. He's been relatively healthy during camp, and if anything has been as solid as a rock. Getting out of the game healthy and making a signature play or two from the slot and boundary will be a good sign for the Florida State Seminole.
New Orleans is pretty terrible at the LT position right now, and Khalif Barnes and Bryce Harris are turnstiles at LT. The two veteran O-linemen played paper, rock, scissors to determine who’d be getting beat by Clowney and Watt after Ryan exited Thursday’s practice. With fellow 1st rounder Marcus Lattimore also leaving practice, Payton said he didn't think they were significant injuries, and he hoped both would be ready to play on Saturday. Since then, it’s come out that Lattimore just felt woozy during practice and that it wasn't thought to be serious. Why is that even significant you ask? Well, the Saints will put out good news quicker than anything, and with nothing coming out on Ramczyk, it makes you wonder if it may have been significant. I'm hoping we get to see the 1st round pick in action against a formidable Texans edge rush, but that won't happen if he can't take the field Saturday night.
Unger will/should be seeing his first game action of the preseason, as he's set to return from the foot injury that has kept him somewhat limited the entirety of camp. No one has missed his steady play more than Drew Brees, as the QB has dealt with high snaps throughout the duration of camp. How quickly Unger gets back on page with the offensive line will be important. He's never been a devastating run blocker, but he's smart and athletic, so it allows him to get to the second level quickly to make key blocks. I'll be looking to see if the injury to his foot plus his age has caused any noticeable drop off in his movement skills along with how much better the rhythm of the offense is with him under center.
Random Thought I: The Saints would have been a much better Hard Knocks. With everything that's happened from the Fairley situation to the Breaux misfire, it's been all drama all offseason for New Orleans.
Random Thought II: No way Connor McGregor beats Floyd Mayweather Saturday night. Floyd is too good at slipping punches and no matter how hard he trains McGregor has never gone 12 rounds in a ring for 3 minutes. His mind hasn’t mentally experienced what that’s like and it's going to be a hell of an adjustment for the Irishman. While he definitely has youth and size over Floyd, Mayweather has the experience factor and the longer the fight goes on the less likely it is that McGregor will score an upset.
Random Thought III: I’ve already mentioned him several times in this article but I wouldn’t be surprised if Marcus Williams gets his 1st turnover of the 2017 NFL Preseason tonight against the Texans
Enjoy an action packed weekend Saints Fans!