When free agency began last March, the Saints knew they wanted to keep wide receiver Willie Snead around, but they weren’t sure how much they were willing to pay him. The most reasonable solution at the time was for the Saints to tender him $615,000 as an exclusive-rights free agent. Snead chose not to sign the tender, however, as he hoped to sign a longer, more lucrative extension before the start of the 2017 season.
On June 14, NOLA.com reported the contract talks as positive. Snead said, "The guys upstairs are handling it. My agent is handling it right now, so right now I'm just focusing on coming in and out of practice every day healthy. I'm just trying to attack this summer and get ready for training camp.”
General manager Mickey Loomis supposedly said back in April that there wouldn’t be any problems with Snead’s contract and that the slot receiver would be with the Saints “for a long time.”
Snead was equally positive a new deal would get done. "I know it's going to get handled," he said. "It's going to take time, but I feel like we'll get it done sooner or later.”
What’s interesting to me is the date this article was published. Of course the quotes could have been recorded days earlier. Yet only 3 days prior, on June 11, Snead had been arrested for driving under the influence and failure to maintain proper control of a vehicle he crashed in Kenner, LA just minutes from his home.
But only the NFL and the Saints knew about Snead’s DUI at this point. It was never publicly reported until September 1st by The Advocate. Prior to his arrest, Snead had begun the summer holding a much stronger hand towards receiving an extension.
Over the past two seasons he had totaled 141 catches for 1,879 yards, and seven TD’s. Snead is no OBJ, and the Saints’ offense isn’t a total cripple without him, but they could certainly use his production right about now.
I can only watch balls slip through Ted Ginn Jr’s butter hands so many times. Brees needs a more reliable receiver in the slot who can make the tough catches that move the chains and keep the offense humming.
It appears Snead only has himself to blame for not keeping his nose clean during a critical contractual offseason. No coach is comfortable investing long term in a player whose immaturity issues keep them off the field.
Knowing a multi-game suspension was looming in the distance, Snead folded his poker hand and signed the exclusive rights tender on July 24th. It would be more than a month before his arrest and 3 game suspension (reduced from 4) would become public knowledge.
Snead will have about another 7 months (free agency starts in March) until he sniffs another chance at sitting down with the Saints front office for an extension. After spending the past two years building a strong case for himself, he’s going to have to start all over from scratch. And this time, he’ll have only 13 games to prove his case.