Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
If you believe Twitter, the reason the Saints released Lance Moore and Darren Sproles is because they need the cap space to sign Jimmy Graham to a long-term contract, or maybe you prefer some in the media thinking Sean Payton is about to transform the Saints offense into a power running juggernaut that will have Vince Lombardi applauding from football heaven.
Both are ridiculous.
Let’s try to think rationally for 30 seconds, which to be fair rarely happens on Twitter.
To everyone out there thinking the Saints cut Sproles and Moore because they had to have the cap space to sign Graham, I have one question, “Do you really think if Sean Payton thought either was essential to the 2014 season they still wouldn’t be on the team?”
Or maybe Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis had the following conversation last week:
Mickey: Sean, I’m really sorry, but we have to cut Darren Sproles and Lance Moore this week.
Sean: What? Darren Sproles is awesome. I’ve been designing an entire new set of plays for him. Can’t we do something?
Sean: Can’t we redo some contracts, maybe give Sproles an extension and lower his cap number?
Mickey: It’s impossible Sean. If we don’t cut him today Roger Goodell is going to fly to New Orleans and personally take Tom Benson to salary cap jail. I CAN’T LET THAT HAPPEN.
Sean Payton leaves room crying.
Somehow I doubt that happened.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweeted out this week, “The salary cap is just an excuse teams use for players they want to release anyway.”
The Saints cut both Lance Moore and Darren Sproles because they wanted to. Period.
If I could describe the Lance Moore and Darren Sproles era in one word it would be FUN. Lance Moore had fantastic touchdown dances and crazy clothes in post-game interviews. Darren Sproles was like a miniature rocket that could launch any time. Having the Saints win makes football enjoyable, but what I really want is FUN.
Winning 17-13 is great, but having Lance Moore do the Hingle McCringleberry celebration after scoring a touchdown AND the Saints winning is better. It’s fun.
While the fans are emotional, the NFL is a cold business.
Moore has a history of injuries, he is over 30 and the Saints think he is not worth what he was scheduled to make. I’m betting the Saints want to get younger and faster at receiver. Moore might have something left but the Saints decided they’d rather begin rebuilding their receiving corps a year early than a year late.
Lance, if it’s any consolation your touchdown celebrations alone should get you in the Saints Hall of Fame.
It’s the exact same thing for Darren Sproles. As spectacular as Sproles was in 2011, in 2012 and 2013, he’s shown significant decline. His kickoff and punt return value has gone from spectacular to below average.
This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the Darren Sproles era. It was fantastic. His 2011 season is on the Mount Rushmore of great seasons in Saints history.
The only thing more ridiculous than thinking the Saints are cutting important players to make room for a Graham contract is thinking Sean Payton is about to turn the Saints into the Seattle Seahawks and run the ball 55 percent of the time, and the Saints cut Sproles because they are revamping their offensive philosophy.
The idea that because in the playoffs the Saints used a power running game to win in Philadelphia and to try and win in Seattle is a glaring example of recency bias. Recency bias is the tendency to think that trends and patterns we observe in the recent past will continue in the future.
Just because the Eagles had one of the worst secondaries in football and designed a game plan that dared Sean Payton to run the ball doesn’t mean it’s going to be the guiding philosophy come next year. The Seahawks had one of the greatest pass defenses in NFL history and Payton tried a game plan he thought would work.
Do the Saints want to run the ball better and maybe a little more? Absolutely. Are they about to become a two tight end and 35 rushing attempts a game team? Twitter is more likely to become a place for reasonable, thoughtful, political debates before the Saints rush the ball 30 times a week.
Mickey Loomis is the best general manager in Saints history. He came to the Saints as a salary cap guy and is an expert at that. What he did in 2012 and 2013 to resign Drew Brees and add players like Keenan Lewis, Curtis Loften and David Hawthorne was remarkable.
Only time will tell if releasing Darren Sproles and Lance Moore will prove the right move, but to believe they aren’t on the Saints anymore for any other reason than the Saints don’t want them is to believe in things like Big Foot.
It’s more interesting but not based in reality.