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Dez Bryant wouldn’t make Saints better, but he would fit Sean Payton’s M.O.

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We’ve been down this road before.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - The ESPN Monday Night Football sideline camera catches New Orleans Saints running back Adrian Peterson (28) shouting at Saints head coach Sean Payton (center) during the 2017 season opener against the Minnesota Vikings.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - The ESPN Monday Night Football sideline camera catches New Orleans Saints running back Adrian Peterson (28) shouting at Saints head coach Sean Payton (center) during the 2017 season opener against the Minnesota Vikings.
SB Nation/ESPN

Earlier this week I headlined our daily link dump with a question posed by one of the articles found within it: could the Saints bring in Dez Bryant late in summer free agency? While I settled on that sample on a whim, it led to a spirited protest in the comments section. Thanks for reading, everyone!

Seeing as we all feel pretty strongly about whether a still-unsigned former Dallas Cowboys star should join the Saints, I’ll offer my take on the Bryant-Saints speculation: I’d pass, but I wonder if Sean Payton will.

Payton loves to bring in big-time players after their usefulness has passed. It’s his M.O., his modus operandi, his weakness. Just sample the list including Adrian Peterson, Champ Bailey, James Laurinaitis, Jonathan Goodwin, Olin Kreutz, and even Aaron Glenn, who played his last two games as a pro in New Orleans back in 2008 before retiring - as luck would have it, he’s now the Saints’ defensive backs coach.

Bryant isn’t a good player anymore, and hasn’t been a difference-maker since about 2014 when he scored a league-leading 16 touchdowns and caught 64.7-percent of his targets. In the three seasons since, he’s collected 17 touchdowns and caught exactly half the passes (150 of 300) thrown his way. Not good!

Who would he displace? Michael Thomas is closing the distance between himself and football’s best receivers - superheroes like Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, and Antonio Brown. Cameron Meredith and Ted Ginn Jr figure to compete for riding shotgun next to Thomas, and rookie Tre’Quan Smith should have a Kenny Stills-esque debut as a home run threat. Bryant couldn’t outrun any of those guys in a footrace. Is he a better option than Brandon Coleman or Tommylee Lewis at the bottom of the depth chart?

Would Bryant even accept that lowly position, throwing crack blocks on outside zone runs and drawing attention as a decoy on play-action passes? I doubt it’s appealing to him after several years in the spotlight at Jerry World Stadium.

But it doesn’t matter how I feel about this* because Sean Payton loves signing guys like Bryant. Players who are past their prime, unproductive, and usually on the wrong side of 30 (granted, Bryant won’t be 30 until late this November) but were stellar back in the day. So I won’t be surprised in the least if Bryant gets a call and #88 jerseys start popping up in the team shop. He would offer some fun quotes in training camp and collect superlatives from teammates (“I mean, he’s a great player; he still has a lot of juice left in the tank”) before getting axed during final roster cuts.

In closing: the Saints should not bother with Bryant. He wouldn’t improve the roster and would just be a sideshow in what should be an already exciting preseason. But until he puts pen to paper with another team, don’t rule out Sean Payton’s worse instincts. After all, he follows Bryant on Twitter.