What will the New Orleans Saints offense look like next season? Well, we already know that veteran wide-out Lance Moore is gone, and now ESPN.com is reporting that unless running back Darren Sproles can be traded, he too will be released.
What does this mean for the Saints going forward? For many Saints fans, the impact of these losses seem jarring as both Sproles and Moore have been core components of the team’s winning formula for the last three years.
In Sproles first season with the team, he was as dynamic of an all-purpose offensive threat as there was in the game, ultimately finishing the year with 603 rushing yards, 710 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns. Similarly, Lance Moore is only one year removed from a 1000 yard season.
So, why are these players being cut? The first answer is obviously financial. The Saints have salary cap issues, so they have to part ways with valued talent. However, declining production is also an issue. After 2011 in which he gained over 600 rushing yards, Sproles’ production on the ground sharply declined from 244 yards in 2012 to 220 yards 2013, which placed him fourth among Saints running backs.
However, the Saints have never viewed Sproles as a consistent running threat. Certainly, by the end of last season the Saints relied heavily on Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, and Khiry Robinson to pound the ball inside while Sproles was used primarily as pass-catcher. In that regard, Sproles’ production as a receiver has remained consistent: 710 yards in 2011, 667 in 2012, and 604 in 2013. Combined, Sproles and Lance Moore accounted for over 1000 yards receiving last season, and that is production the Saints might have to scramble to replace. The Saints offense thrives – and, indeed, relies – on versatile receiving threats
Most likely, the Saints will try to address in the draft by selecting a wide receiver early (names like Kelvin Benjamin keep getting thrown around). One thing is certain… For the first time in three years, the Saints offense might have some new faces.