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Most NFL trades involve draft picks. This can make it challenging to evaluate the long-term success or failure of a transaction. By the time the picks come to fruition, most fans don’t remember what picks went for what other picks or for which players. However, NFL analytics guru Warren Sharp recently shared an illuminating chart that shows exactly what the New Orleans Saints have given away in recent years versus what they’ve got back. And it doesn’t make the team or general manager Mickey Loomis look good.  

The New Orleans Saints front office has been wheeling and dealing lately

Mickey Loomis became general manager of the New Orleans Saints in 2002. From the start, he may have been more willing to trade and make moves than many of his colleagues, thanks to his time with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.

Over the last two decades, Loomis has put together excellent Saints rosters year after year, keeping the team perennially in contention in the NFC. Brining in Drew Brees in 2006 was Loomis’ biggest masterstroke. He won the NFL Executive of the Year Award for it and, three seasons later, won a Super Bowl.

Since then, consistently manipulating the salary cap to keep a win-now roster has been the GM’s biggest annual achievement.

Following all the success, Loomis and the Saints are now at a crossroads. Brees left following the 2020 season, and head coach Sean Payton departed after 2021. Now Loomis is trying to reload, not rebuild, and to do that, he’s making all kinds of trades.

The problem is when you lay those trades out on paper (or a computer screen), they don’t look so good.

The Saints have turned a lot of draft capital into a small haul

NFL analytics expert Warren Sharp laid out a flow chart on Twitter showing the trades Mickey Loomis, and the New Orleans Saints made heading into and during the 2022 NFL Draft. All told, the Saints sent out eight total picks and got three in return.

In the end, the Saints walked away from these deals with Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave (No. 11), Northern Iowa tackle Trevor Penning (No. 19), and Air Force defensive tackle Jordan Jackson (No. 194).

In a vacuum, that may seem like a decent haul. Once you see what the Saints’ picks for other teams did, though, it doesn’t look great.

The Washington Commanders and Philadelphia Eagles both benefitted from Loomis’ questionable draft deals.  

The Commanders ended up with Penn State WR Jahan Dotson and Alabama running back Brian Robinson Jr. They also flipped one of the Saints’ picks (along with one of their own) to the Carolina Panthers and used those to draft North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell and Nevada tight end Cole Turner.

The Eagles made out best of all. They drafted Kansas linebacker Kyron Johnson and own the Saints’ 2023 first-rounder and their 2024 second. Best of all, they flipped New Orleans’ Nos. 19 and 101 2022 picks to the Tennessee Titans for Pro Bowl WR A.J. Brown.

After Sharp laid out Loomis’ 2022 draft misadventure, former Green Bay Packers executive Andrew Brandt tweeted a statement confirming what the chart suggested. Brandt claims that the Saints have now “become an easy mark for shrewd general managers.”

The outlook in the Big Easy is dicey for 2022

New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis before the game between the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans in 2019.
Mickey Loomis | Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Adding Chris Olave and Trevor Penning to the New Orleans Saints roster isn’t nothing. Although it pales in comparison to the haul other teams got for the franchise’s draft picks. But, some see Olave as the best wideout in the 2022 draft. And Penning, while polarizing, does have all the traits to become a cornerstone left tackle in the league.

Mickey Loomis and company also added Tennessee cornerback Alontae Taylor at No. 49 and Appalachian State LB D’Marco Jackson at No. 161. Those two players come into an excellent defense that allowed the fourth-fewest points in the NFL in 2021.  

The problem for the 2022 Saints is on the other side of the ball.

In addition to Loomis’ shrewd salary cap manipulation over the last two decades, the driving factors in the organization’s success were Drew Brees at QB and Sean Payton on the headset. Those two are now gone, replaced by Jameis Winston and head coach Dennis Allen, who brings in an 8-28 career record after three years with the Oakland Raiders.

The Saints O also lost Pro Bowl LT Terron Armstead this offseason in free agency, and the situation with All-Pro WR Michael Thomas — who missed all of last season — is still up in the air.

It could be a long 2022 season for the Saints, especially with Tom Brady back in the saddle with the division-rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New Orleans’ biggest saving grace may be that the rest of the NFC South — the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons — may still be a year or two away from being a year or two away.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference


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