“[New Orleans] was trying to get above New England to get Mac Jones.”
– NFL Draft Recap, Days 2 & 3
– Notable picks and moves
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— Michael Lombardi (@mlombardiNFL) May 3, 2021
Well that’s interesting. Former NFL personnel executive Michael Lombardi reported on his “GM Shuffle” podcast that the Saints didn’t stop calling teams to trade up the board after the top two cornerbacks were picked at No. 8 and 9; instead, he reports, New Orleans turned its strategy towards a trade targeting Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. The Saints expected Jones would be picked by the New England Patriots at No. 15 overall, but they struggled to find a trade partner ahead of them.
“They were trying to get up above New England to get Mac Jones. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” Lombardi said, citing sources with two teams that held trade talks with the Saints. “They couldn’t get there, why? Because Minnesota traded with the Jets, Minnesota didn’t go back as far as New Orleans, and they got a good deal. 13 wasn’t moving because (Rashawn) Slater was there and the Chargers weren’t going to move. 12 wasn’t there because Dallas was going to pick Parsons. 11 became Fields, so there was nowhere to go.”
The Jets had to trade two third rounders to move from No. 23 to 14 in their trade with the Vikings, getting a fourth round pick back along the way. Chicago sent their 2022 first and fourth rounders, plus this year’s fifth round pick, to move up from No. 20 to 11 for Fields. Both trades saw a team move up nine spots. Even if the Saints had found a trade partner willing to move down 18 draft slots, it may have cost a package of multiple first round picks and a couple of mid-round selections to go get Jones.
Instead, the Saints chose to stay put and hold onto their picks, making calculated moves further on in the draft while stockpiling assets for 2022. And they did bring in a rookie quarterback with Notre Dame’s Ian Book, though he wasn’t the sort of high-end prospect Jones has been talked up as. It shouldn’t shock anyone if the Saints add another quarterback some time this season with Book on the depth chart next to Trevor Siemian, behind Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. Until the Saints have an answer for life after Drew Brees, they’ll continue taking swings at the plate.