There is a reason that these teams are not the New Orleans teams of old. There is a reason that the Saints have only made the playoffs once in four years. It all comes down to the organization's repeated front-office failures.
Just a little over a year after he was drafted, the Saints have parted ways with quarterback Garrett Grayson, a guy they were hoping to mold into the air apparent to Drew Brees.
That never happened. In the past two seasons, Grayson has been regulated to preseason appearances, and those haven’t gone so well.
In the preseason that just passed, Grayson completed just 56 percent of his passes and threw just two touchdowns opposed to four interceptions.
The Saints have picked him back up and placed him on their practice squad, but that’s a long way from being Brees’ successor.
The failed experiment with Grayson is just one of the many personnel blunders the Saints have made over the years.
There is a reason that these teams are not the New Orleans teams of old. There is a reason that the Saints have only made the playoffs once in four years. It all comes down to the organization’s repeated front-office failures.
This was not always the case. From the time Sean Payton walked through the doors until about 2009, New Orleans was as good as any franchise when it came to bringing in top players via the draft and free agency.
I mean, look at the first big free agent they brought in under Payton: Brees. Brees ended up leading New Orleans to its first and only Super Bowl and has established himself as the greatest player in the team’s history.
But Brees couldn’t do it alone. The front office brought in a bunch of other key players over those first five years.
In the draft, they brought in Marques Colston—a guy that would end up being Brees’ favorite target.
They brought in a key protector in offensive lineman Jahri Evans, one of their top defensive linemen in Will Smith and a guy that would ice away the Super Bowl with a pick-six of Peyton Manning: Tracy Porter.
Through free agency, they snagged guys like Jeremy Shockey, Jonathan Vilma and Darren Sharper—all three guys turning out to be invaluable during their Super Bowl run.
In the years following the world championship, New Orleans still saw plenty of success because they were still making great moves.
In the draft, they brought in guys like Malcolm Jenkins, Cam Jordan and Jimmy Graham. In the later years, they struck pay dirt with guys like Terron Armstead and Brandin Cooks.
In free agency, they made a brilliant move in brining in Darren Sproles. That move propelled them to a great run that fell just short of the NFC Championship game in 2011.
Their acquisition of Keenan Lewis in 2013 turned around a horrid defense and led to a trip to the second round of the playoffs.
But ever since that loss to Seattle, it has been all downhill for the Saints.
Free agent pickups that had been so beneficial for them in the past have only become pitfalls.
They signed Jairus Byrd for a king’s ransom, but he has been injured for much of his time in New Orleans, and even when he has been on the field, he hasn’t come close to duplicating the type of success he had in Buffalo.
The one-year Brandon Browner experiment was a total disaster. Illegal contact and pass interference penalties far exceeded the amount of good plays he made throughout the season.
They brought in Champ Bailey during a preseason, and he didn’t even end up playing a game for them. He retired before the season began.
But their greatest shortcomings have come in the draft. Over the years, they have whiffed over and over again.
They drafted Patrick Robinson in the first round of the 2012 draft and selected Corey White in the fifth round.
Both players became starters, but both were maligned for years as a result of their mediocre play. Both players are no longer with the team.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste was supposed to save them at cornerback when they drafted him in the second round of the 2014 draft. He could never break into the starting lineup. He’s no longer with the team.
Guys like Martez Wilson (third round), Nick Toon (fourth round) and Khairi Fortt (fourth round) all came in with high expectations and all failed to live up to them. All are no longer in New Orleans.
These hiccups in the draft have been a disturbing trend for the Saints. From 2010-2015, New Orleans has drafted 30 players.
Out of those 30 players, only 14 developed into consistent starters, and only 14 are still with the team.
Out of the 30 players, only two became Pro Bowlers—Jordan and Graham.
Graham is currently in Seattle after New Orleans fell victim to yet another head-scratching trade that shipped him away in his prime.
We all want the Saints to get back to where they were from 2006-2011, but until the front office starts making better decisions, it’s a lost cause.