Signed to a five-year, $36 million contract last offseason, Coby Fleener was supposed to serve as another dynamic playmaker in an offense full of them. At times he was. Mostly, he was just solid, catching 50 passes for 631 yards with three touchdowns.
Could it have been better?
“I think it absolutely could have been better,” he said. “I would have loved it to be better.”
And he thinks it will. Instead of trying to conquer a new playbook and new verbiage, he’s instead relearning what he already knows and feels comfortable with his role. Fleener believes that should make a big difference heading into his second season with the team.
“I think anytime you’re trying to learn a new offense, trying to learn a language, trying to learn something of that nature, going through it under pressure, going through it for a year really helps,” he said.
Fleener was the #12 TE in standard formats and #15 in PPR, so he doesn't have to improve too much to get into the TE1 conversation. He's currently going in the 13th round of early PPR drafts after going in the 6th round last season. He looks like a post-hype sleeper.
After a 1,485-yard season in 2015, Peterson gained just 72 yards on 37 carries (1.9 YPC) in 2016 while his season was interrupted by meniscus surgery. He’s 32 years old and doesn’t run well out of the shotgun, which has become the norm in today’s NFL. We don't believe he'll usurp Ingram as the starter, though he should see a significant role a la Tim Hightower. Ingram may become a draft day value if his ADP takes a hit after this signing.
The New Orleans Saints are not done yet looking at big names on the NFL free-agent market.
Related players: Mark Ingram
The team plans to release veteran quarterback Luke McCown, the backup the past four seasons, on Wednesday, according to a source with knowledge of the decision.
Related players - Drew Brees
McCown, 35, initially joined the Saints in 2013. He re-signed on a two-year, $3 million contract during the 2016 offseason, but with the team adding Daniel to the roster, McCown won't have the chance to play on the final year of his deal.
The 49ers added some much-needed depth at running back, agreeing to terms with Tim Hightower, general manager John Lynch announced Saturday. Hightower becomes the second running back to join the Niners this week, along with DuJuan Harris, who re-signed with the team on March 28.
Related players - Carlos Hyde
Hightower will battle Harris for the leftover carries not given to entrenched starter Carlos Hyde, and will be able to look forward to running behind newly acquired fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Some beat writers in New Orleans last year thought HIghtower was the better runner between he and Mark Ingram, but HIghtower will be 31 by the start of the season.
The New Orleans Saints brought back one of their own running backs.
Cadet set a career high for receptions (40) last season and caught four touchdown passes. He'll continue to play in a pass-catching role behind starter Mark Ingram.
The New England Patriots acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints on Friday for a first- and third-round pick in the upcoming draft, multiple sources told ESPN's Dianna Russini.
The Patriots love receivers who can turn a short catch into a long gainer and with his speed, Cooks fits the bill. The signing is great for Tom Brady, but it's a downgrade for Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell. Cooks figures to rank as a WR2 in early projections since the Patriots have several mouths to feed. In New Orleans, it's a small downgrade for Drew Brees while Michael Thomas, Willie Snead and newcomer Ted Ginn will pick up the slack.
Ginn finished the season as the #48 WR (PPR) after finishing #33 the year before. Even with Kelvin Benjamin back, Ginn’s targets remained remarkably consistent; he saw 95 targets in 2016 after getting 97 targets in 2015. Still one of the fastest receivers in the league, Ginn is being brought to New Orleans to stretch the field since it looks like Brandin Cooks is on his way out of town. The Saints’ three starting receivers each saw at least 104 targets, so Ginn could post similar (or better) numbers in 2017, provided he enjoys a smooth transition.
Morton most recently was the wide receivers coach for the Saints and previously served as offensive coordinator for USC.
This time, the possibility of Saints HC Sean Payton leaving seems even more serious, with NOLA.com reporting Sunday night that the Los Angeles Rams are expected to seek permission to speak with Payton and that Saints general manager Mickey Loomis would be open to a trade.
A source told ESPN that Payton and Loomis met on the subject following Sunday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons and will continue meeting into the week. For any deal to be struck, it would have to be considered a win-win-win for the Saints, Rams and Payton, as Loomis and Saints owner Tom Benson really have ultimate control.
The Saints signed Payton to a five-year contract extension worth more than $9 million per year this past offseason, and multiple sources have told ESPN that they are happy with the direction the team has been headed this year. But, they won't force Payton to stay if he wants to leave.
Sunday, January 1, 2017, 3:21pm
Friday, December 30, 2016, 6:42pm
Friday, December 30, 2016, 6:42pm
Falcons WR Julio Jones (toe) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week. Jones won’t be on a snap count this week, per HC Dan Quinn. He has a nice matchup with the Saints.
Brate suffered a back injury late in the third quarter of Saturday's game against the New Orleans Saints. He walked off the field very slowly and kept grabbing his lower back region on the sideline. He had originally been announced as "questionable" to return, but was then downgraded to "doubtful" and never re-entered the game.
Related players: Brandon Myers
Brate finishes his season with 57 catches for 660 yards. His eight touchdown catches are currently the most in the league among tight ends and are second on the Bucs behind Mike Evans. Myers should see an increased workload with Brate out.
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