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Talks were reportedly hinging on what the Saints would receive in return for Cooks. New Orleans wanted the Patriots’ No. 32 pick, while New England didn’t want to part with cornerback Malcolm Butler. The sides compromised Friday evening.
The move marks the end of a month-long attempt by the Saints to deal Cooks, who was unhappy with his role last season in New Orleans. The resulting trade ends up looking like a win-win for both clubs, as the Saints rid themselves of a messy relationship and receive a first-round selection in return, one that will be used to beef up their defense, Rapoport reports.
Former Browns and Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger will ink a deal with New Orleans, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. The 30-year-old was let go by the Browns this week after three seasons and 18 sacks.
While Cleveland may be in a full on youth movement, the Saints have been stacking vets on defense all offseason long. Despite a promising young core that features players like Stephone Anthony, Delvin Breaux, Obum Gwacham and 2016 first-round pick Sheldon Rankins, the team also grabbed Cortland Finnegan and cheap jerseys and Roman Harper.
Internally, when Payton discussed the issue with Cooks, the receiver never left satisfied. The longtime coach pacified the issue, telling Cooks he’d get targets. And the following week he did — a season-high seven catches the next week. But Cooks felt the elephant in the room — Brees’ arm strength not enabling him to find Cooks deep — couldn’t be talked about on any level.
That was frustrating to him, though personally and professionally he loved Brees. The situation and Cooks’ feelings were addressed with Payton, his receivers coach John Morton, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and general manager Mickey Loomis. Some talks even began in the preseason.
Evan was drafted by New Orleans back in 2006. He missed just seven starts over 10 seasons with the club, who cut him in February after the veteran refused to agree to a pay cut.
After flaming out with the Seahawks this offseason, Evans would loom as an immediate starter with the Saints, who continue to shuffle their line just days before meeting the Raiders in the opener.
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When the (draft) process started, we were talking about him in the late teens, early 20s. I think he’s back up here in the mix right around the top 10 because he’s so explosive off the edge. The effort just blows you away with how hard he plays.
He really could be a three-phase player on defense, special teams, and offense as an occasional gadget player. He’s not quite polished at corner, but he could be a Pro Bowl punt returner from Day 1.
New Orleans was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Superdome stood as a symbol of what went wrong. The building that had once hosted Super Bowls was tattered with part of its roof ripped off as thousands huddled inside seeking shelter from the rising waters. Stories from the inside were grim. Many suggested the Saints abandon the building. Some wouldn’t have blamed owner Tom Benson if he scurried to San Antonio. Other businesses had left town. But Benson stayed, rebuilt and emerged even stronger.
On September 25, 2006, the Saints returned to the Superdome for the first time since Katrina, hosting the rival Falcons for a prime-time tilt on Monday Night Football.