Dig Baton Rouge

Saintly Switch

By Casey Gisclair

The chase for the Super Bowl is over for the New Orleans Saints, but the final four games of the 2015-16 season still have value in building for the future.

With eight losses and a roster with more holes than Swiss cheese, the Saints’ faint postseason hopes were splattered on Sunday by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and his five touchdown passes.

All hope for a Lombardi Trophy is gone, but there are still plenty of things that make the last month of the season important for the Saints.

With that said, I think it’s time the Saints put rookie Garrett Grayson on the field and let him work.

I know! It’s blasphemous for anyone in Louisiana to suggest that Drew Brees should be benched, because he’s immortal, invincible, blah, blah, blah.

I get all of that nonsense, but hear me out. I don’t think the Saints should necessarily bench Brees, but I just think they should play Grayson. You know, maybe a series or two here or there in close games or a quarter or two in lopsided games.

Get him on the field, see what he can do and begin the process of building toward the future.

Brees won’t play forever – no matter what the average Joe in New Orleans might like to believe. With a rebuilding project soon to start, the team has to find out if Grayson is the team’s guy for the future.

The Saints think he is.

New Orleans picked Grayson in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft after he had a dominant season at Colorado State.

Scouts say that Grayson has a big arm, is fairly mobile and has enough between the ears to command an NFL franchise.

It’s time to find out.

The NFL is changing, and no longer are quarterbacks eased into action after a half-decade of sucking on a pacifier with a clipboard in hand on the sidelines.

Rookie quarterbacks seeing early action are no longer the exception, but are the norm. The rules in the league favor the offense, which paves the way for rookies to have success.

Jameis Winston is doing big things with Tampa Bay right now, and Marcus Mariota has also had enough moments to show the Titans that he is a franchise-caliber quarterback.

The Saints now need a chance to see the same from Grayson.

In the next few offseasons, New Orleans will have to drastically overhaul its roster. The current roster and salary cap situation is a train wreck – a collision course that will force the Saints to change at just about every position.

Quarterback is one of those positions, believe it or not. With Brees set to make $30 million in 2016-17, it’s not inconceivable that New Orleans shops the legendary quarterback to another team in the offseason. If no one bites, they may opt to outright cut Brees to try and start over.

If they don’t and Brees plays the 2016-17 season with New Orleans, it will undoubtedly be one of his last in the NFL. He will be 37 at the end of the season, and his stats have already begun to taper off.

So with the honeymoon almost over, it’s time to put Grayson in for some live fire and see how he responds. He may be a hit. If so, he is undoubtedly the man of the future.

He may be a wreck. If so, it’s still probably not wise to give up on the kid, but it would make drafting another quarterback much easier if the right player lands on the team’s draft board.

Either way, it’s time to find out and plan for the future.

Without a quarterback in today’s NFL, even the best roster truly has nothing.

Ask the Houston Texans or Buffalo Bills.

With Brees nearing his end and the Saints at the beginning stages of rebuilding, let’s find out once and for all what Grayson can do.

Everyone loves Drew Brees, but it’s time to mold his successor and make sure that the right man is in place to take over once he hangs up that storied No. 9 jersey for good.


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