May 29th, 2012
This week, I was given the task to imagine an offseason in NOLA without any bounty scandal. Without any penalties or suspensions handed down.
A nice, quiet offseason where the NFL still sucked at the teet of one of the biggest ratings grabbers and revenue gainers in the league: the New Orleans Saints. (Oh, right, they still are doing that with four nationally televised games. Not to mention two games versus the 49ers and Giants in the league’s “flex” season.)
Coming off the heels of a crushing late defeat in San Francisco, the Saints would be heavy favorites to “host” the Super Bowl in New Orleans in February 2013.
Mickey Loomis, free of the wiretap scandal in this alternate universe, would go on to replace departed free agents with upgraded talent like Ben Grubbs or Curtis Lofton. This free agent class would only add fuel to the fire that would be the Saints offseason hype.
I don’t think they sign David Hawthorne, though, with Jonathan Vilma (and Will Smith) not being suspended. (With Hawthorne being the last linebacker signed and Chris Chamberlain’s familiarity with Spag’s defense, his signing would be irrelevant.)
When Sean Payton’s suspension was handed down, it overshadowed what could be the Saints’ biggest offseason acquisition: Brodrick Bunkley. His addition could mean wonders to solving New Orleans’ woes at stopping the run, and it was overlooked. Not anymore.
Before we get to the draft, we can’t overlook that the Saints still would have let Gregg Williams go, and land Steve Spagnuolo to lead the defense back near the top.
He would end up with plenty of toys this offseason. He’s also changing things up and putting Martez Wilson at defensive end from his outside linebacker position last year. Just his scheme alone will do wonders for the pass rush.
The Saints pretty much got the targets that they were keen on in the draft. That was obvious with the perceived “reaches” that they chose, so adding a second rounder wouldn’t do much to change that.
But who would they be able to add in the second round?
When the Saints were due up in the second round, there was some interesting prospects still left on the board. LSU’s Reuben Randle was still available. ( That would be the only prospect that would change a current draft choice: Nick Toon.) Pass-rushing specialist Vinny Curry was also there, as was Dwayne Allen, a perfect blocking complement to Jimmy Graham at tight end.
One of those prospects added to this already loaded roster would be pretty impressive.
An offseason without “Bountygate” would have the Saints going into the 2012 season as Goliath, and no one likes a Goliath. This very dark offseason has been a bad nightmare that Who Dat Nation can not wake up from.
That’s fine. No team, no city is better equipped to weather a storm than New Orleans.
And that storm has turned this entire region into David, and we all know what happens to David.
He comes out on top.
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