Remember when the NFL was a no-trade league? That’s not the case any longer, as the action continues in advance of the Oct. 30 trade deadline. It has become positively baseball-like, with contenders adding to their rosters and bad teams dismantling and stockpiling draft choices.
The Saints-Giants trade follows the pattern of Monday’s deal that sent wide receiver Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders to the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys got the wide receiver they desperately needed while the Raiders, after trading pass rusher Khalil Mack before the season, added yet another first-round draft choice next year. They have a 1-5 record but now have a trio of first-round selections in next year’s draft.
In this case, the Saints surrender a fourth-round pick next year and a late-round choice in 2020. That leaves them with only one pick in the first four rounds of next year’s draft. The others were used in trades to add rookie pass rusher Marcus Davenport, backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and now Apple.
For the Saints, this could be about matching up with the revved-up passing games of other top NFC contenders such as the Minnesota Vikings and, especially, the Los Angeles Rams — whom the Saints play back-to-back in the next two games. The Saints’ promising 2017 season ended a step shy of the NFC title game with that stunning loss to the Vikings in a conference semifinal. They’re doing all they can, with a win-now approach, to attempt to keep that from happening again.
Brees still has plenty left. He just became the NFL’s career leader in passing yards and joined the elite 500-touchdown-pass club. He joined Peyton Manning and Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks ever to beat all 32 NFL teams when the Saints won Sunday in Baltimore on the first career missed extra point by Ravens kicker Justin Tucker.
If the Saints are going to return to another Super Bowl with Brees as their quarterback and Sean Payton as their coach, they need to replicate last season’s formula of being a versatile team with a dependable defense and a sturdy running game. This is a step in that direction.
The Giants, like the Raiders, are giving up on this season. The embarrassment continued with Monday night’s loss in Atlanta that dropped the Giants’ record to 1-6. Quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had productive nights, numbers-wise. Beckham seemed to behave himself. But the Giants still struggled to score, and Coach Pat Shurmur raised eyebrows with a failed two-point conversion in the fourth quarter and comically poor clock management at game’s end.
It’s unclear if this trade will be the final part of the Giants’ dismantling. Maybe Manning’s 399-yard passing performance Monday will persuade the Jacksonville Jaguars, with Blake Bortles barely holding on to the starting job, to trade for Manning, but that’s unlikely.
The in-season trade activity is creating intrigue around the league, and the Saints just joined the Cowboys in going all-in on the 2018 season.
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