Mixed bag

Kyle Riviere
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

The Saints made a huge offseason splash last week. Unfortunately, it's not the kind of splash fans were hoping to see.

Instead of excitement and anticipation, one particular move brought disappointment and shock.

Fans were punched in the gut by the news that their best offensive weapon is on his way out after the "Who Dat" nation celebrated so many of his touchdowns over the past five years.

It all happened so fast. Usually, with today's Internet age and thirst for immediacy, you'll catch wind of rumors and at least be prepared for a major move before it happens.

That wasn't the case last week. Word began to surface on the Internet Tuesday afternoon that the Saints and Seahawks were discussing a possible Jimmy Graham trade.

It sounded feeble; it sounded like it didn't have any legs. Most Saints fans like myself just brushed it off and said,"yeah right."

Only about 10 minutes later, the deal was done. Graham was off to Seattle along with a fourth-round draft pick in return for Pro-Bowl center Max Unger and the Seahawks' 31th overall pick in this year's draft.

After I got over the initial shock, I could then feel only one emotion: confusion. The move left me absolutely baffled.

Sure, sending Graham packing will free up some cap space and sure, it'll give the Saints an extra first-round draft pick. With that said, it still has me scratching my head.

The Saints definitely need to do a better job of protecting Drew Brees. That's a given. Too many times last year, I saw him getting sacked or pressured.

But even with Brees not having the clean pocket he's so used to having, New Orleans still ranked first in total offense with 411 yards per game. They still ranked ninth in points per game with 25.

It wasn't quite the offense we were used to seeing but to me, that has more to do with not having that running back/receiver hybrid we used to have in Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles than it had to do with the offensive line.

The Saints did bring in versatile running back C.J. Spiller to fill that void. They just need him to do something he couldn't quite do in Buffalo: stay healthy.

If they had traded Graham for a Richard Sherman or a Derrelle Revis, then I would have been all for it. But an offensive lineman? No deal.

I might have even been intrigued to pull the trigger on the deal if we were being offered a top-10 pick. But pick No. 31? No deal.

This isn't some past-his-prime player that has been on the decline we're talking about here.

We're talking about a guy that is only second to Rob Gronkowski when discussing the best tight ends in the league.

We're talking about a young stud that's still in the prime of his career at just 28 years old.

In four years as a starter, he has never had fewer than 889 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. Even hampered by shoulder injuries last season, he still had 10 touchdown grabs.

He had a league-leading 16 touchdown catches in 2013 and in 2011, he came close to setting a record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season with 1,310. Oh yeah, he also added 11 scores.

There is no doubt about it, he has been Brees' most consistent target the past four years. Regardless, the Saints just shipped him off for a center.

Production aside, they just totally disregarded all of last offseason's negotiation drama. They worked so hard to re-sign him and when they did, they gave him a king's ransom.

To make way for this large new deal, they dealt great players like Sproles and Malcolm Jenkins. After last week, all of that stuff, it was all for nothing.

They did all of that reshuffling just to give Graham the boot a year later. It just doesn't make any sense.

Last but not least, New Orleans traded him to an NFC opponent. If the Saints want to compete for another Super Bowl, they're going to have to go through Seattle. They just handed them a new weapon to aid in that battle.

More moves followed for the Saints. The best of those moves was their acquisition of Patriot cornerback Brandon Browner.

Browner teamed up with Revis this past year to create arguably the best cornerback duo in the league as the Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl title.

Browner's height at 6-foot-4 should give the New Orleans secondary a big boost when playing tall divisional receivers like Julio Jones, Vincent Jackson and Kelvin Benjamin.

The Saints were undermanned when it came to the cornerback position last year. With the release of Jabari Greer, they were down to one true starting cornerback in Keenan Lewis.

Lewis is a very good corner. Unfortunately, behind him, New Orleans was left with Corey White and Patrick Robinson trying to cover teams' No. 2 and 3 receivers. Those are bad matchups against any team.

Because of this, the Saints ranked just 25th against the pass. They desperately needed a proven cornerback, and they got one with Browner.

The final move of last week was a tough one as well. They traded away explosive second-year wideout Kenny Stills to the Dolphins for Dannell Ellerbe and another draft pick.

Ellerbe has been a solid linebacker throughout his career. He helped the Ravens win a Super Bowl back in 2012. Though, he is coming off of a year where he was sidelined with an injury.

To get Ellerbe, they part ways with another young playmaker on offense. Stills had just under 1,000 yards receiving last year and served as the Saints' best deep threat.

With Brees beginning to get a little long in the tooth, he has now lost two of his favorite weapons.

These moves by General Manager Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton, some were good, some were bad. It's a classic mixed bag.

I love the pickup of Browner, but I just have a feeling that shipping Graham off will come back to haunt them.

Maybe there was some method behind that for Loomis and Payton. I sure hope so because right now, it just looks like madness.