The Eagles and Saints made some news on Monday by making a trade of picks. The Eagles stockpiled a future first-rounder (and more) while the Saints converted the 18th overall selection to picks No. 16 and No. 19 in 2022.
The reason for trading down is obvious. A team swaps a higher spot now for more stuff later, without any specific plan formulated currently on how to use the extra selections.
The thought process becomes different when trading up. Teams don’t trade up so that they can brag to friends and family that they have more or higher picks. They do it with a specific objective in mind. Often, they do it with one specific player in mind.
For the Saints, there are two likely explanations. One, perhaps they’ve run the various mock drafts and they’ve concluded that, with selections No. 16 and No. 19, they’re confident they will get players who will address specific needs immediately. Impact players who can make an immediate impact, whether at defensive end or offensive line or receiver.
Two, maybe this trade is a first step to another one.
The Saints recently made a play for Deshaun Watson. That means they were ready to make a major investment of picks in a quarterback. Now that they have two picks in the top 20, could they then send those picks to, say, the Giants at No. 5?
That would allow the Saints to cut the line in front of not one but two division rivals in the top 10, both of which are likely considering taking a quarterback — the Panthers at No. 6 and the Falcons at No. 8.
Unlike the 49ers, who moved to No. 3 roughly a month before the 2021 draft, the Saints would be wise to stay put, for now. A jump to No. 5 in the short term would invite the Panthers or Falcons (or someone else) to leapfrog the Saints. If New Orleans is thinking about making another trade aimed at snagging a signal-caller, they need to do it when the pick they’d be acquiring is on the clock.
If that’s what the Saints are thinking about doing, how much would it take to get to No. 5? Would No. 16 and No. 19 do it? Or would it take more? If so, how much more?
Ultimately, it may be less than whatever they would have given up to get Watson. And they’d be paying a rookie a lot less than Watson will receive.
Whatever the Saints are doing, they surely have a plan that consists of something more than, “Wow. Hey. Look at this. Yesterday we had two picks in the top 20. Now, we have two.” The Saints are up to something.
Maybe having picks No. 16 and No. 19 marks the end. Maybe it’s just the beginning.