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What you missed this week with the New Orleans Saints

A look at some of the biggest Saints news and notes from the week of January 21st.

NFL: Pro Bowl-NFC Practice Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We’re in the second week of life without New Orleans Saints football, but that doesn’t mean things aren’t happening. We get to see the seven players compete in the Pro Bowl on Sunday afternoon, with Sean Payton and company leading the recruiting tour charge.

Quick Hits

  • The Saints signed two more players to reserve/future deals this week, landing former Eagles wide receiver Josh Huff and former Packers linebacker Jayrone Elliott.
  • Cameron Jordan is sending a 108-year-old WWII veteran to the Super Bowl.
  • Alvin Kamara won VIZIO’s Top Value Performer of 2017, and was also named Sporting News’ Rookie of the Year (as voted on by NFL players).
  • Dan Campbell is set to interview with the Vikings for their offensive coordinator vacancy next week. Also, Aaron Glenn is reportedly in the running for the Patriots defensive coordinator job.
  • The XFL is coming back in 2020, what ex-Saints will be on their projected 40-man rosters?
  • Thomas Morstead shifted his focus to Louisiana after an incredible outpour from Vikings fans, and he’s matching 10% of the donations made. He’s up to nearly $115,000 right now.

Saints' Larry Warford caught off guard by last-minute Pro Bowl invite |
The New Orleans Saints guard witnessed the Eagles thump the Vikings far off the beaten path at his friend's house on a couch in Kentucky. He knew he was an alternate for the Pro Bowl at the original announcement. It drifted far from his mind.

Then the rest played out in warp speed.

"The game ended and I was sitting on my friend's coach chillin' and I saw a call from New Orleans," Warford said. "I didn't know who it was so I didn't answer it. I was like 'Whatever, I'll answer it later.'"

Warford watched a voicemail and a text pop up on his screen.

"'Hey Larry, this is Khai (Harley) from the Saints. I was calling you about the Pro Bowl and if you wanted to go.' I got off the phone and I was like, 'Wait! What?!?!?!' I was like OK. ... I had to pack up everything real quick and I was on a plane."

It’s good to see a Saints offensive lineman go to the Pro Bowl, even if it was as an alternate. Along with Larry Warford, Ryan Ramczyk and Max Unger would have been great choices too. Warford had a strong 2017, filling in for long-time staple Jahri Evans.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis on Drew Brees' future | ESPN
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis on Drew Brees’ upcoming free agency: “There’s not a lot to say. Listen, he doesn’t have a contract, which has happened before. We want him to be our quarterback, and we’ll get going on that at some point.” Loomis said there haven’t been any negotiations yet, but he anticipates negotiations to ultimately go as smoothly as they have in past years. “We just finished our season,” Loomis said. “We’ll get to it. I’m not anticipating any big issues, so we’ll see.”

It sounds like both sides are eager to make this happen, but it always boils down to brass tacks. How much money and time is going to be committed to Drew Brees, and how effective will the 39-year-old be in 2018? Realistically, I would throw out a two-year deal and try to guarantee as much money as possible. Brees has expressed his desire to remain in New Orleans, and he’s in line to set a bunch of a records. Achieving those with the Saints would be desirable, and you have to believe Brees loves the makeup of this organization.

Mickey Loomis: Grievances over Nick Fairley's contract are in process of resolution |
New Orleans can recoup some of the money by stating that the condition was not disclosed when Fairley signed the deal.

"It's in the process," Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said. "There's grievances filed, so we have to go through the process."

New Orleans filed a grievance with the NFL's Management Council, the non-profit association that represents NFL teams in negotiations related to the collective bargaining agreement and NFL Players' Association. Loomis said the grievances were not filed recently.

This will probably get uglier as this goes on. Do you side with Nick Fairley or Mickey Loomis? The team could certainly use the cap space, but part of this has to be on them for not figuring this out sooner. Of course, the alternative of running Fairley out there to play could have been much worse. No matter what, it doesn’t sound like Fairley will be playing football again.

How to tackle Alvin Kamara? 'Something we're still trying to figure out,' NFL defenders say |
“That’s something we’re still trying to figure out,” Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis said. “You look at him. He’s not that big from a physical-looking standpoint. But for some reason, the guy breaks multiple tackles. He keeps a low center gravity and really knows how to utilize his lower-body strength.”

I’m reminded of Kamara’s Week 3 touchdown against the Panthers. It exhibited just how hard he is to bring down. On his late touchdown run, Kamara made it into the end zone and got popped. Most players would have went down, but Kamara shrugged it off and kept upright. For as many ridicules the Saints drafts had pre-Jeff Ireland, their past two have been incredible. One more sets them up to be an actual franchise.

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield on Preparing for NFL Draft |
Mayfield is here to meet with teams that might actually draft him, and he’s had extensive meetings with four of them; the Saints, Bills, Jets and Dolphins. And they put him through the wringer, teaching him some of their offensive concepts and asking him to recall them an hour later.

“That’s the only upside for me [being here],” Mayfield says of the meetings with teams. “I’m confident I can show exactly what I’m about, how much I care about football and how I’d do anything to win. And not just that. Put me on a board and let me show you how much I know about the game. Let me show that I can pick information up, take it and run with it. Getting in front of these people was so important, even bigger than the three years of film I put together.”

It goes without saying, but at some point most teams meet with almost every prospect during the draft process. However, the Sean Payton intrigue with Baker Mayfield seems like it’s picking up steam. Here’s a list of the prospects they met with at the Senior Bowl this past week, by the way. Mayfield, like any quarterback the Saints could potentially draft, would benefit from sitting behind Brees a year. However, he and Chase Daniel are both set to be free agents right now. It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.