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Wholesale changes could be on the horizon for the New Orleans Saints, who already cut a handful of veterans at the start of the offseason. Now, it looks as if more may be on the way.
According to ESPN, the team is shopping wide receiver Lance Moore and running back Pierre Thomas, and remains open to the idea of trading scat back Darren Sproles. The Saints cut ties with veterans like Roman Harper and Will Smith earlier in the offseason to try and make space available to re-sign tight end Jimmy Graham, and further cuts may be needed if the team intends to be proactive when free agency officially gets underway March 11.
Thomas, 29, is owed $2.9 million and will be a free agent after the 2014 season. Moore, 30, is due $3.8 million and has two years remaining on his deal. Sproles, 30, is set to make $3.5 million and is also heading toward the final year of his contract.
The emergence of former first round pick Mark Ingram down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs, as well as Khiry Robinson, make Thomas more expendable. Playing on 50 percent of the offensive snaps in 2013, Thomas still managed 549 yards, a career-high 77 receptions for 513 yards, and five touchdowns last season, but a chest injury sidelined him during the postseason.
Once Drew Brees’ go-to receiver on underneath routes, Moore’s role has diminished last season. Moore followed his first 1,000-yard receiving season with 37 catches for 457 yards and two touchdowns, as injury kept the wideout out of the lineup in spurts. Rookie Kenny Stills emerged as another receiving threat in place of Moore, and the team was high on Nick Toon during training camp.
Sproles was arguably the Saints’ second-best receiving option, though. He hauled in 71 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns, in addition to 220 rushing yards. Neither Ingram or Robinson possess the same playmaking ability as a pass-catcher out of the backfield like Sproles does.
New Orleans has a number of needs to fill in free agency and through the draft, most notably on the defensive side of the ball in the secondary and linebacking corps. With depth a luxury at wide receiver and running back, Thomas and Moore are certainly expendable, and Sproles would potentially generate a lot of interest from other teams.
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