Friday, February 7, 2014
MVP replacements: New Orleans Saints
By Mike Triplett
Whether it's a marquee QB or an interior defensive lineman, no team can afford to lose its most valuable player.
So, who steps in if the unfathomable happens? Our NFL Nation reporters and Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl have teamed up to identify each team's most important player and which player in the 2014 draft each team can target to groom as a potential replacement -- MVP insurance. For some teams, their future stars may be slightly younger than others as draft-eligible non-seniors are denoted with an asterisk.
Quarterback Drew Brees is the clear MVP of the New Orleans Saints -- and they would clearly be in a world of hurt if he went down with an injury. But the Saints have never invested heavily in a backup for Brees. And it’s still a tad early to use a high draft pick on a potential future replacement since Brees, 35, should have at least three or four good years left -- if not more.
Last season, the Saints’ backup was veteran journeyman Luke McCown, who is now a free agent. The Saints could certainly choose to re-sign McCown or someone like him. But they also have second-year backup Ryan Griffin, whom they signed as an undrafted free agent from nearby Tulane last year. The Saints are high on Griffin’s potential -- enough that they promoted him to the active roster last season to keep him from signing with another team.
It’s too early to predict whether Griffin has the potential to be Brees’ eventual successor. But the 6-foot-5, 206-pounder could certainly follow the career path of former Saints developmental project Chase Daniel, who earned the backup job in New Orleans for three years before leaving for the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency.
There is always a chance the Saints could fall in love with a late-round draft prospect to compete with Griffin for that developmental role. But it’s hard to imagine them using a significant pick on one.
Potential pick: Stephen Morris, QB, Miami, Fla.
Morris struggled with his accuracy and decision-making during the 2013 season. Playing for a new offensive coordinator James Coley might have played a role. That only goes so far though, and his struggles continued at the Senior Bowl, where he measured just 6-1 3/4 and a lean 208 pounds. His stock has plummeted as a result. However, Morris has the foot speed and enough arm strength to play in the NFL. If he slips far enough, the risk could be worth the reward for teams like the Saints.
-- Steve Muench