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The Saints chose Derek Carr over a rebuild. That's just fine.

Your excitement about Derek Carr likely comes down to how much you believe in the philosophy of ‘rebuilding’.

NEW ORLEANS — The longest New Orleans Saints free agent courtship in team history ended with Derek Carr signing a 4-year contract to be the team's next quarterback. 

The Saints-Carr free agency affair ended almost a month to the day he flew in for a visit on February 8. There are celebrity marriages that don’t last that long.

I haven’t been this obsessed over a perceived slightly above-average quarterback’s career decision since 2006. That worked out pretty well for the Saints so I choose optimism about Derek Carr coming to New Orleans.

Your excitement about the Saints signing Derek Carr likely comes down to how much you believe in the philosophy of ‘rebuilding’. ‘Rebuilding’ is the idea if a team isn’t a serious Super Bowl contender they should tear everything down and start over from scratch.

Proponents of this theory say, “Saints aren’t close to winning a Super Bowl and trying to win the NFC South and lose in the playoffs is pointless. Burn everything down, draft a young quarterback, then be good!”

I reject this theory entirely. 

Rebuilding a team by tearing it all down is sports fraud. It’s nonsense invented by nerds and analytics people with no track record or data to show it works more than any other method of trying to build a good football team.

First off, I just renewed my Saints season tickets with my mom. Add in traveling from Houston for me and we aren’t talking a small amount of money. I’m blessed to be able to do it but I have ZERO interest in watching the Saints be intentionally terrible for an undetermined amount of time. How long do the Saints get the privilege of watching my money burn while they stink and I wait for them to start trying to win again? Also, my 77-year-old mom with Parkinson’s is not really down with a 3-5 year plan to be good again.

No thanks.

Let the Chicago Bears and Houston Texans inflict that fraud on their fans and flush seasons down the toilet and not spend money while promising, “We will care about winning…eventually.”

It’s hilarious to me that analytics-based NFL people have data for everything: When to go for it on fourth down, why passing is better than running, and 9000 other stats. Do you know what they don’t have? Data showing teams that intentionally tanked entire seasons have a better chance of long-term success than ones that don’t.

Here's some data I believe that shows losing intentionally to get a high draft pick and take a quarterback is a terrible idea:

Since 2010 about 70% of quarterbacks drafted in the top 10 are failures. Don’t believe me? The New York Jets drafted 2 different quarterbacks in the top 5 within 4 years recently and they were the team battling the Saints hardest to get Derek Carr. 

Believe in the magic of drafting a quarterback high at your peril.

The fantastic Saints writer Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.football did some research and found that since the completion of the 2009 season, of the 250 teams picking in the top 5, only 25% make the playoffs within 5 years! 

Drafting in the top 5 is a blackhole of sadness, why would you want the Saints to go there willingly? 

It’d be like having a retirement plan of going swimming in a lake crawling with alligators looking for a golden egg. Yes, there is a golden egg in the lake that can fund your retirement, but there is also a 75% likelihood you get eaten alive and never come out. Does that feel like a good strategy?

Those who believe in the Saints losing now to get better in the future treat it as an article of faith. No data proving it works more than it doesn’t is needed. As a guy spending money on season tickets, I need more than, “Trust me bro.”

I prefer the Saints just to try to improve from where they currently are. No need to go backward on purpose.

Thank you Mrs. Gayle Benson for allowing the Saints to spend more actual money in 2022 than 28 NFL teams. Teams like Chicago, Atlanta, and Dallas spent at least $75 million less than the Saints last year.

What do you think the Bears, Falcons, and Cowboys did with all that money they didn’t spend on players? Did they reduce ticket prices or hand out free concessions at games?

The New Orleans Saints are continuing their belief in trying to win today. Not tomorrow, not in 2025. Right now.

By the way, Derek Carr is now the best current quarterback in the NFC South by a country mile and a top 5 quarterback in the NFC overall if you account for injured guys (Matthew Stafford, Kyler Murray) and quarterbacks likely to be traded (Aaron Rodgers).

He’s definitely the best free agent quarterback that will come available in the next few years and I’ll make a fun prediction; Derek Carr will be better than 75% of the drafted quarterbacks in the next 2 years.

Dennis Allen got the quarterback he wanted and now the pressure on him to deliver will be higher than ever. Not winning the worst division in the NFL will be seen as a complete failure.

This Saints offseason has been a delight. From the Sean Payton sweepstakes to the Derek Carr month-long soap opera the Saints seem to always make things interesting and be at the center of the NFL news cycle.

I’ve talked myself into Jim Everett, Danny Wuerffel, two Billy Joes, Heath Shuler, 5 minutes of Kerry Collins, Aaron Brooks, and Jameis Winston. You think I can’t convince myself Derek Carr is the answer at quarterback for the Saints. Please. I once bought a Wade Wilson jersey.

September can’t get here fast enough.


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Ralph Malbrough is a contributing writer and Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at saintshappyhour@gmail.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at @SaintsForecast or download the Saints Happy Hour Podcast.

(Warning: The Saints Happy Hour Podcast may contain language that is not suitable for all audiences) 

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