METAIRIE - Of all the Saints receivers the last two seasons, third-year man Willie Snead might have been the most reliable.
"Ah, man, I love it," Snead admitted. "Just being able to get the ball in those situations like 3rd down is a good feeling."
All Snead's done over that span is catch 141 passes for almost 1,900 yards, but his future with the team will hinge a lot on how things go in 2017. The Saints offered Snead a tender back in March, and he signed the deal a few days before camp. He'll earn a base salary of $615,000 over what is effectively a one-year contract. Despite that, he says he's concentrating solely on training camp.
"I just try to come out here every day with the same mentality I had when I first got here," said Snead. "Hopefully I'll be rewarded before the season. It might be after the season, but I know right now I'm focusing on winning games and trying to help my team at the end of the day get to the postseason and make a run at the Super Bowl."
The Saints could still offer Snead a raise or a long-term deal before the season begins, but there's no obligation to do so. If Snead has a monster year, he could command more money in the offseason as a restricted free agent and the Saints will have to decide whether to match any offer made to him. Snead believes whatever happens between now and then will work out.
"Just because I'm in a situation where I can get paid doesn't mean that necessarily I want to get paid right now," he said. "I might have to wait. I might have to prove myself again because the last two years I wasn't the guy. I just happened to make the plays when the plays came to me so you know I feel like this year's going to be a big year for me, just to separate myself and show people that I am worth a big pay raise or whatever the case may be. It's a challenge I'm willing to accept and I'll just take it as motivation."
The receiving corps clearly has plenty of motivation, especially when Snead says he believes top-to-bottom they're the best group in the NFL, even with the departure of Brandin Cooks.
"Cooks was a great asset for our team because he's fast, he's a playmaker, but at the end of the day we have guys that can fill that role," Snead said. "We brought in guys: Corey Fuller, we've got Ted Ginn, I mean he's a proven vet in this league. I'm getting better. Michael Thomas is coming into his second year. We have weapons that we can fill that space where Cooks left."
And Snead believes he can be the guy to fill that space.