For what it’s worth, I heartily disagree with the first two major reported moves of the New Orleans Saints off-season: releasing running back Pierre Thomas and shopping inside linebacker Curtis Lofton on the trading block.

I hate this. After a season in which, by all reports, one big problem with the Saints was the lack of much of the terrific locker-room leadership lost through free agency and other salary-cap management in the 2014 off-season, it astonishes me that the Saints would let go two more of their acknowledged locker-room leaders, both of them consummate professionals, and both still quite productive.

Pierre Thomas had a few injuries last year, but none of them terribly serious, and when he played he was still stellar: a very, very strong five yards per carry on his 45 totes, plus another 45 catches out of the backfield, along with usually superb blocking in pass protection. He still always fought his way forward on almost every carry, gaining an extra yard or two after contact, mostly on sheer grit. And he still timed his “cuts” tremendously well, making the most of small openings ahead of him. Sure, his “cap hit” this year was going to be somewhat high, above $2 million, but he is far from the most overpaid Saints — and he has shown a willingness in the past to renegotiate downward in order to help the team.

A player who always gives his all, always shows a good attitude, and always does the little things well is a guy to keep, not to jettison.

Likewise, Curtis Lofton was still quite a good player last year, indeed one of only two bright spots (along with cornerback Keenan Lewis) on an otherwise atrocious defense. He again was the team’s leading tackler, and by several ratings groups (one strongly disagreed and rated him downward) he was among the most productive and effective inside linebackers in the league last year.

His salary was high, but $2 million of his “cap hit” could have been easily eliminated by converting his compensation from one type of bonus to another.

Described as an “old school” professional, he is the kind of leader the team needs, not one to let go.

Count me very disappointed.

 

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