Saints Coach Sean Payton Says He Feels Max Unger Will Be Ready Late in Preseason

A shroud of mystery surrounded New Orleans Saints center Max Unger, who recently underwent foot surgery, Herbie Teope of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

While there are various reports speculating on Unger’s road to recovery, the Saints have their sights set on before the start of the regular season.

“We anticipate probably early August,” coach Sean Payton said Saturday on Day Two of rookie minicamp. “I see him possibly being able to get into the preseason. Our goal would be Week 3 (of the preseason), so that’s where he’s at.”

Payton confirmed two key areas on Unger’s situation – the foot surgery and the procedure was performed on the same foot that caused Unger to miss one game in 2016.

While questions could linger as to why the Saints waited until May to have Unger undergo surgery, Payton points out the team hoped rest after the regular season would work.

“At the end of the season, on the X-ray he had a little bit of a space there, where you would call the Lisfranc,” Payton said. “And you make one of two decisions. Dr. (Robert) Anderson, who we think is one of the best foot guys in football, felt like, ‘Hey, let’s rest it. No need for a procedure.'”

The Saints, however, noticed at the start of the offseason workout program in April that the problem needed further evaluation with Anderson.

“When we got back started in the offseason program, it had increased a little bit,” Payton said. “So he felt like putting a screw in it now was going allow him plenty of time to rehab.”

The Saints appear confident the offense won’t need to rely on a center to start the regular season other than Unger, especially when considering the team elected to address the injury now.

“It wasn’t anything new, and yet we were hoping the rest would help it out,” Payton said. “And we’re getting ahead of it.”

Saints Trade with Patriots; Select Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk with 32nd Pick

The Saints wrapped up the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft adding another player after making a deal with the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.

The team with the 32nd pick selected Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk, a player they are hopeful can develop and protect quarterback Drew Brees.

The 6-6, 310-pound Ramczyk was regarded as one of the draft’s top offensive tackles. He fills a need on the offensive line, as coach Sean Payton said at the league’s annual meeting he wanted to come out of the draft with a young offensive lineman.

Ramczyk, who started his college career as a left tackle at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, sat out in 2015 after transferring to Wisconsin.

He then started every game at left tackle at Wisconsin en route to a first-team All-Big Ten selection and an All-American selection by The Associated Press.

Saints Snag Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore with 11th Pick in NFL Draft

Needing secondary help is nothing new to the Saints, and Thursday they addressed it with adding Ohio State Buckeye CB Marshon Lattimore to their roster.

“I’m going to try to go in there Day 1 and show what I can do,” Lattimore said on a conference call shortly after his selection. “”I’m going to come in there not trying to be the big man on the team. I’m going to come in trying to do my job there and I’m going to get it done for them.”

Coach Sean Payton had made no secret that improving the Saints’ defense was his priority this offseason. It was unavoidable after New Orleans led the league in offense but still finished below .500 at 7-9 for a third straight season.

The Saints ranked 27th in defense last season, allowing 375.4 yards per game, and allowed a league-worst 273.8 yards passing per game. They also ranked second-to-last in points allowed with 28.4.

The 6-foot, 193-pound Lattimore was the first cornerback selected in this year’s draft. He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2016, when he had four interceptions. That was his first full season with the Buckeyes after overcoming nagging hamstring injuries during his first two years with the program.

Saints Come to Terms on a Deal with Former Vikings RB Adrian Peterson

The Saints have a new running back, as the team has come to terms on a deal with former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

Here’s a statement that Peterson made to ESPN reporter Josina Anderson about coming to New Orleans.

“I am excited to be joining the New Orleans Saints. I’m really looking forward to this opportunity. Most importantly, I chose this team because it just felt right within my spirit. Additionally, my wife and family added their confirmation with the same feelings. On offense, it goes without saying that the Saints are really solid behind Drew Brees.

“I feel like my skill set can make them even more dominant as a unit. They have a great offensive line, which is something that stood out to me as well. I could tell from talking to head coach Sean Payton over the last two weeks that he did his due diligence in evaluating how I could contribute.

“I also did a lot of homework on the defense as well. While I know that injuries have played a role in performance, I also see areas of potential with a lot of younger guys having the ability to step up. Lastly, it goes without saying that the Saints have an amazing fan base and I look forward to making them proud and creating everlasting memories.”

A Look at the 2017 Saints Schedule with a Glance at the Good and the Bad

The 2017 NFL Schedule is out, and here’s a look at the Saints slate for the upcoming season, with the home games in bold:

Sep. 11 at Minnesota Vikings (Mon) 6:10 PM

Sep. 17 New England Patriots 12:00 PM

Sep. 24 at Carolina Panthers 12:00 PM

Oct. 1 at Miami Dolphins (London) 8:30 AM

Oct. 8 BYE

Oct. 15 Detroit Lions 12:00 PM

Oct. 22 at Green Bay Packers 12:00 PM

Oct. 29 Chicago Bears 12:00 PM

Nov. 5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 12:00 PM

Nov. 12 at Buffalo Bills 12:00 PM

Nov. 19 Washington Redskins 12:00 PM

Nov. 26 at Los Angeles Rams 3:05 PM

Dec. 3 Carolina Panthers 12:00 PM

Dec. 7 at Atlanta Falcons (Thu) 7:25 PM

Dec. 17 New York Jets 12:00 PM

Dec. 24 Atlanta Falcons 12:00 PM

Dec. 31 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 12:00 PM

What’s Good about this Schedule: If this team is going to be in the playoff mix, two of the final three are at home, games against the Jets and a huge game Christmas Eve against the Falcons.

What’s Bad about this Schedule: Three of the first four games on the road, including games at Minnesota in prime-time and a game in London. It doesn’t get much harder than that.

Willie Snead Working Out Despite Not Having a Deal With the Saints

Saints wide receiver Willie Snead has not yet signed his contract tender for 2017, but that isn’t stopping him from participating in offseason workouts with his teammates, Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

Snead is an exclusive rights free agent, and although the Saints offered him the minimum salary tender of $615,000 before the March 9 deadline, the two sides are still in the process of negotiating a more lucrative deal.

But, Snead’s lack of a contract is not leading to any sort of holdout as he plans to attend the Saints’ offseason workout program, according to a league source. The team’s offseason workouts begin Monday.

Appendix Q of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement specifies that players under a tender shall be deemed team employees during offseason programs as long as there is an agreement between the player and the club.

The 24-year-old Snead has been a productive target for quarterback Drew Brees the past two seasons, playing 30 games for the Saints with 141 catches for 1,879 yards and seven touchdowns. Snead also threw a 50-yard touchdown pass on a trick play in 2016.

Saints Coach Sean Payton Comments on Meeting with QB Johnny Manziel

Saints coach Sean Payton said he had a “good” breakfast meeting with former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel during this year’s Super Bowl in Houston. But Payton added that any speculation around the Saints signing Manziel because the two met would be false, Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.
Manziel’s numerous missteps have been well documented the past couple of years. Payton said he simply wanted to meet Manziel to get to know him.

“It gave me an opportunity to meet him,” Payton said Wednesday morning at the NFL owners meetings. “I was out in Houston for three days for the Super Bowl, and I understand he was. It was the first time just having a chance to talk to him. I’ll really leave it at that because it’s just what it was.

“I’m sure he’s got a handful of things that he has to do step-wise to get himself back in position to sign with a club and play football again. It made sense for me to get to know him a little bit.”

Payton bristled at the insinuation that signing Manziel would occur just because they had a meal together.

“There’s a handful of things that he’d have to do,” Payton said. “I think part of the report that insinuated that it was moving in that direction, I think that was false. And now I’m sitting here answering 15 questions of a reporter’s report.

“I met with him. We had a good breakfast. That was that.”

Deal Appears in Place for Saints to Snag CB Malcolm Butler

The Saints are ‘enamored’ with Malcolm Butler and that the parameters for a deal between the team and the cornerback are ‘mostly’ in place, Mike Girardi of CSN New England reports.

Once the Saints and Butler have reached agreement, the ball goes back into the Patriots’ court. They can either match the offer or let Butler go to New Orleans at the cost of the Saints’ first-round draft choice.

The third option, of course, is that the teams work out a trade, but that’s contingent on Butler signing the contract the Patriots tendered him prior to free agency. If he’s unsigned, he can’t be traded.