For the New Orleans Saints and the rest of the NFL’s other 32 teams, there are 10 days still remaining until the NFL trading deadline, which will take place on Tuesday, October 30th at 4 p.m. Eastern time.
While New Orleans doesn’t currently have much to offer a team since they’ve already gave up their top pick in next year’s 2019 NFL Draft to draft rookie defensive end / edge pass rusher Marcus Davenport, they aren’t completely considered “out of the market” and potentially could offer up one of their starting players and / or picks in the 2020 NFL Draft to do so.
There’s also the issue of getting under the salary cap to make such a trade feasible, although as Saints fans are more than aware: GM Mickey Loomis has never had a problem juggling the numbers around with player contracts, to make room to go after some one.
Bottom line: if the Saints REALLY want to make a trade, they can pull it off so long as they have a willing trade partner.
The Saints of course have been rumored to be in the trade market for a cornerback specifically, after the team’s notable struggles early in the season at that position along with the loss of starting slot CB Patrick Robinson; who was broke his ankle in the team’s 43-37 overtime win at Atlanta back in Week #3.
While the Saints’ CB play has improved dramatically since that time, there are still some very talented CB’s out there who New Orleans could choose to target. And with several NFL teams already appearing to be headed towards having a losing season, most of them could be more than willing to listen to make such a deal.
With that in mind, here are 3 players in particular at cornerback that New Orleans could pursue — starting with the most obvious one……
PATRICK PETERSON, (1-6) ARIZONA CARDINALS
The Cardinals just recently as of yesterday have denied reports (a strong denial made by team owner Michael Bidwell, no less) that they are allegedly listening to offers for Peterson, who of course as most Saints fan are well aware was a unanimous 2-time All-American at LSU.
Peterson was selected fifth overall by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft; and is considered one of the “elite” players at the CB position League-wide. Not surprisingly, Peterson also has been invited to the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven seasons in the NFL.
However, with the Cardinals having lost once again this past Thursday Night in a blow-out loss at Denver to the Broncos, Arizona now has a (1-5) record — and their 2018 Season is already over for all intent and purposes. It was the Cardinals’ 6th loss out of their last 7 games played dating back to last season.
Nevertheless, Peterson hasn’t experienced any noticeable drop-off in performance in his 8th NFL season at age 28; and he actually still ranks among the top CB’s numbers-wise, according to Mike Jurecki of Azcardinals.com.
Per “@PFF Patrick Peterson was once again his elite self against the Broncos. Peterson posted an 85.6 coverage grade and only allowed 1 of 3 passes thrown his way to be caught for a 2.8 passer rating. QB’s have a 39.9 passer rating when targeting Peterson, 2nd best in the NFL.”
— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) October 19, 2018
Make no mistake about it: Peterson would be a “perfect fit” in New Orleans at the outside boundary position opposite of Marshon Lattimore, and would be an obvious upgrade over current starter Ken Crawley.
The hard part of course, is getting the Cardinals to accept any offers for him. But as the losses for Arizona continue to mount, so to might their willingness to begin entertaining the possibility while the proverbial “iron is still hot”.
GAREON CONLEY, (1-5) OAKLAND RAIDERS
Conley was benched last week by Raiders head coach Jon Gruden; who has made a series of head-scratching moves since returning to the Oakland franchise after spending 9 years as a game analyst on Monday Night Football (among other roles) for ESPN.
Conley of course is a former teammate of starting Saints #1 CB Marshon Lattimore’s at Ohio State University; and he was selected by the Raiders last year with the 24th overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Despite his benching however, there’s no denying that Conley has talent. He was ranked the 2nd best cornerback, behind Lattimore by NFLDraftScout.com, ESPN, and NFLcom analyst Mike Mayock. He was also ranked the fourth best cornerback in all of college football in 2016, by Sports Illustrated.
Unfortunately, he only played in 2 games as a rookie after a shin injury cut his season short, and he was placed on injured reserve.
Conley was fully healthy however when this current season began, but Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther told reporters last week prior to his benching that Conley is “basically a rookie player” and still is considered a “work in progress”; and with the return of veteran Daryl Worley from a 4-game suspension to begin the season, Conley was quickly replaced by Worley as the other starter opposite of Rashaan Melvin.
Nevertheless, considering that Gruden already practically GAVE AWAY the League’s top #1 defensive star Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears right before this season started, the decision to bench Conley is seen by some as yet another questionable move made by Gruden — who some analysts now believe might have lost his coaching “edge” since all of the time that he spent away from the sidelines.
Would Conley be a fit in Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen‘s scheme? That would seem to be a somewhat plausible scenario, given Conley’s 2017 NFL Draft profile; which noted that he had “press-man talent with zone instincts.”
But considering that Conley is still only age 23 and essentially possesses the capability to become a “lockdown” CB someday, the Saints making a move to acquire his services might not be the worst idea in the world.
JIMMIE WARD, (1-5) SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
Originally taken by the 49ers in the 2014 NFL Draft out of the University of Northern Illinois, Ward first began his NFL career at the safety position; where he was ranked the top strong safety prospect coming out of college that year by NFLDraftScout.com and was additionally ranked the 3rd best safety prospect by NFL.com analyst Mike Mayock and Sports Illustrated.
Unfortunately for Ward, in his 5 years with San Francisco he hasn’t performed up to par at the strong safety position; which ironically prompted the team’s decision to move him to the outside boundary position at cornerback — and now it would seem that the 27-year old Mobile, Alabama native has found his calling.
Ward is considered to be a very physical. “hands-on” type of player since the move to the CB position; and has managed to excel in that role after being named the starter despite being considered too short (5-foot-11, 193 pounds) to play in that spot.
With the 49ers appeared headed for a losing record this year after the season-ending loss of QB Jimmy Garropolo to a torn ACL; San Francisco could be more than willing to entertain offers for Ward; although there are some observers who believe that 49ers GM John Lynch might be a bit hesitant to make such a deal after the team exercised their 5th year option on him last year back in May of 2017.
Nevertheless, Ward has never really lived up to his expectations as a 1st-round NFL Draft pick; which in turn could lead 49ers brass to change their minds about any potential offer.
If New Orleans is serious enough about upgrading the CB position, then perhaps the chance still exists that Lynch, Gruden, or Bidwell could be get a surprise phone call from Loomis and the Saints — once the NFL trade deadline arrives in 10 more days from now….