By Casey Gisclair
New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis has wheeled, dealt, and done everything in between this offseason as the architect of the largest roster overhaul in the NFL.
With the Saints in salary cap purgatory and the team in danger of becoming laughing stock without a solution, Loomis has had the courage to override the opinions of fans and cut costs as best as humanly possible in the past several months to protect both today and tomorrow.
Simply put, the Saints got less talented but more cap friendly in the melee, ridding themselves of contracts like Jimmy Graham, Curtis Lofton and many others who were great, yes, but also very expensive.
In exchange for all of the moving pieces in what’s been a complete roster overhaul, the Black and Gold have acquired a slew of salary picks that will allow the team to get younger to begin building for the future.
But with a roster stockpiled at quarterback, halfback and on the offensive lines and with a defense that now has depth at defensive back for the first time in ages, there’s one guy in this draft that the Saints should work feverishly to try and get.
Close your eyes LSU fans, because you won’t like the name that’s about to run through my lips.
But the Saints should trade up to get Alabama wide out Amari Cooper. To me, doing so would greatly stabilize the team’s offense and give New Orleans a chance to compete for the NFC Championship.
I just think Cooper is the most can’t-miss player in the entire draft. At Alabama, he was unstoppable. He was the Crimson Tide’s only legitimate weapon. They threw him the football every, single time and SEC defenses couldn’t stop him.
I know it wasn’t play design or ingenious scheme. For goodness sakes, frickin’ Lane Kiffin was the boss of that offense.
It was all talent. They’d get in a bind, face third and long and then chuck the ball to No. 9. It never failed. It was like the perfect kryptonite for Kiffin’s stupidity.
Cooper caught a ridiculous 124 passes for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. And that was on an offense without much else to offer. Defenses knew he was getting the ball and it just didn’t matter. They couldn’t stop it. He was the single most dominant SEC player (not named Manziel) that we’ve seen in a very, very long time.
And now it’s up to the Saints to make his future one that is owned by New Orleans.
Folks like to say that Drew Brees is getting old and is past his prime. Well, that’s true. His best days are indeed past him.
But that’s partly because the game is more difficult for him to play today than ever before because of New Orleans’ personnel.
In the past few years, the Saints’ receivers have been pretty crummy, folks. They’ve been a bland, vanilla group that’s really not struck much fear into opponents.
Remember when New Orleans had guys like Reggie Bush or Darren Sproles in the backfield to catch dink and dunk passes and scamper for 6-7 yards? Yeah, that element of the offense is good.
Remember when Marques Colston was actually somewhat decent? Yeah, that was at least three years ago. He is just a shadow of his former self.
Remember when all four wide-outs in the shotgun set were legitimate players? Last year, the Saints trotted Robert Meachem out there like it was still 2009.
For New Orleans’ offense to take a step forward and return to prominence, they need an elite, front-line wide-out to spearhead the efforts and take some pressure off Brees.
The answer isn’t Brandin Cooks. He’s a gadget. New Orleans needs a true thoroughbred that it can pump 80 passes to a season for a cool 1,350 yards.
Without Graham, the bullets in the holster aren’t quite as potent as they once were. Heck, without Graham, the Saints’ receiving corps is one of the worst in the NFL.
But a move to get Cooper could change that and it could make the final 2-3 years of the Brees Era more bearable.
Trade the No. 13 pick and a third rounder to move up to around No. 6 or No. 7 to make it happen. If needed, I’d go so far as to trade the No. 13 pick and my second-rounder, as well if it meant Cooper.
Like Odell Beckham this past year, I think Cooper is the best football player in the 2015 Draft.
With him on board, what looks like a bland New Orleans offense can suddenly have life. A team that’s staring 8-8 in the face can maybe steal 10-11 wins.
Make it happen, Mickey.
Let that trade be the icing on the cake in an offseason that’s been filled with ground-shaking moves.