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pakowitz 04-02-2003 10:06 AM

Saints rumor mill: Not talking about Jones talks, if there w
 
http://www.thenewsstar.com/html/B2BA...1C86DCAD.shtml



This is an expanded online report
Staff and Wire Reports
Posted on April 1, 2003
The Saints went to the league's spring meetings last week hoping to heat up talks on a possible trade with the Patriots for free safety Tebucky Jones, a veteran player that would provide a major upgrade for their struggling secondary.

But the talks, if there were any at all, apparently fizzled because no trade was made before the meetings convened Wednesday afternoon. Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said he hadn't talked with anyone from the Patriots and added, "There's nothing going on."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick became so tired of being asked about a deal that has reportedly been in the works for weeks that he and Saints coach Jim Haslett agreed to not talk about Jones, who has been tagged as the Patriots' franchise player, to anyone other than themselves.

"Anybody else can say what they want to say," Belichick said. "I don't comment on players and transactions. I'm not denying it. I'm just not commenting on it."

The holdup is with the compensation to New England, which is seeking a second-round draft pick in exchange for Jones. The Saints, however, are willing to give only a third-rounder to the Patriots for the five-year veteran, the second of their two first-round draft choices in 1998.

Jones became the target of trade speculation earlier this month when the Patriots signed veteran free agent Rodney Harrison to a six-year. $14.5 million contract. Harrison ($1 million cap figure), Lawyer Milloy ($5.8 million) and Jones ($3 million) would eat up nearly $10 million of the $75 million salary cap although Belichick said the team could keep all three.

The Saints would love to have Jones to add to the back end of a secondary that had all kinds of problems in 2002. While it was a combination of things, the Saints finished 27th in the league in pass defense in giving up 237.8 yards per game (the league average was 212.2) and 25 touchdown passes.

Strong safety Sammy Knight is an unrestricted free agent who probably won't be re-signed. Knight, a Pro Bowl pick in 2001, makes a lot of big plays, but doesn't have the speed the Saints are looking for. Free safety Jay Bellamy will likely find himself on the bench if he makes the team at all because second-year pro Mel Mitchell - a fifth-round draft pick in 2002 - has already been penciled into the starting lineup.

Former Steelers safety Lee Flowers is expected to be in New Orleans for a free-agent visit. A starter since 1998, Flowers played under Haslett when he was the Steelers' defensive coordinator from 1997-99.

Curtis trying to catch up: Running back Curtis Keaton, a free-agency grab from late in the offseason last year, never became familiar with the Saints' scheme - and saw little action in 2002.

"Keaton was forced," according to The Sporting News, "to play catch-up and didn't contribute much last season after joining the team via trade just before the start of the regular season."

Jeff Duncan says the team should finally see the fruits of that trade in 2003: "Keaton will benefit from a full offseason, when offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy installs the entire offense from scratch each spring," he writes. "Keaton has spectacular athletic skills and running ability. Once he learns the system, especially the protection schemes, the Saints think he can become a dangerous threat as a third-down back and situational sub for starter Deuce McAllister."

Mathis makes it official: The Falcons have re-signed free agency Kevin Mathis, the former Saints, to an undisclosed deal, according to atlantafalcons.com.

Mathis, 5-9, 185 pounds, signed with the Falcons as a free agent last September, coming over from division-rival New Orleans. In 2000, he started all 16 games for the Saints - finishing with a career-high 87 total tackles, 23 passes defensed and three interceptions. Mathis started 13 of 14 games for the Saints in 2001 and finished with 79 total tackles and two interceptions.

Last year, he played in 11 of 14 games for the Falcons as a reserve, missing two games because of a sprained knee and one game because of a hamstring injury. He recorded 15 tackles and finished tied for second on the team with three interceptions despite not being a starter.

Mathis had been an unrestricted free agent after his contract with the team expired on February 28.

Quote, unquote: "Really, the Saints should be commended for trying to do something to keep him, but it backfired on us," says New Orleans coach Jim Haslett of negotiations with tackle Kyle Turley, who eventually signed with St. Louis. "It didn't work out the way we thought, and he wasn't happy so we parted ways. We just didn't want a disgruntled employee around."

Irvin horns in: The Vikings have ironed out the details of their deal with former Saints cornerback Ken Irvin, according to KFFL.com.

Irvin signed a three-year contract, with base salaries of $700,000 (2003), $800,000 (2004) and $1.5 million (2005).

Had it with Haslett?: Profootballweekly.com suggests that the Turley trade may have been signalled larger changes down the line in the organization.

"The Saints did more housecleaning in recent weeks by trading volatile OLT Kyle Turley to the Rams for a second-round pick in 2004," they say. "The move wasn't completely unexpected - Turley has been wildly critical of Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and hasn't always been on good terms with head coach Jim Haslett - but some insiders believe the Saints could have gotten more in return for Turley's services."

PFW quotes unnamed teammates - along with veteran center Jerry Fontenot - as saying that "the Saints are putting too much faith in free-agent signee Wayne Gandy to replace Turley and that the offensive line will be seriously weakened by Turley's departure. But we're told that Saints management simply didn't want to deal with Turley anymore and thought dealing him at this point was a case of addition by subtraction. Although Gandy isn't as talented as Turley at the tackle position, the fact that Gandy will be less of a locker-room distraction likely will make the team more of a cohesive unit on the field."

It's the kind of trade that could come back to haunt the front-office, PFW says - and the head coach, in particular.

"Sure, Haslett has rid himself of a burr under his saddle," they say, "but he also has eliminated any possible excuses if the Saints struggle next season, and it could be Haslett's head on the chopping block if New Orleans doesn't produce next season."

More? Better? Nope: The Saints did not receive any of the 32 compensatory draft picks awarded by the NFL this week. The picks are awarded to teams that lose "more or better free agents" than they sign during the previous free-agency period. Fifteen teams received picks.

WhoDat 04-02-2003 10:25 AM

Saints rumor mill: Not talking about Jones talks, if there w
 
So Gandy is NOT as good as Turley according to this article... great, another reason to be upbeat about the upcoming year! We have really gotten better this off-season, don\'t you guys think?

BlackandBlue 04-02-2003 11:01 AM

Saints rumor mill: Not talking about Jones talks, if there w
 
Not going to jump on that so quick, as the only remarks about Turley being better is from his teammates, or ex-teammates.

WhoDat 04-02-2003 11:35 AM

Saints rumor mill: Not talking about Jones talks, if there w
 
His teammates and Pro Football Weekly... if I\'m reading that correctly.

subguy 04-03-2003 11:15 AM

Saints rumor mill: Not talking about Jones talks, if there w
 
Guys, I know he wanted to go. I know he showed attitude from time to time. 2 Questions what did the Saints do to make Turley want to stay and feel welcome? Second, aside from his grumbling,he had passion. Passion that alot of pro athletes don\'t have because they are paid. I feel we made an error with this one. I have my kevlar vest on and am waiting for the barrage.

pakowitz 04-03-2003 12:50 PM

Saints rumor mill: Not talking about Jones talks, if there w
 
what did the Saints do to make Turley want to stay and feel welcome?


we offered him a new contract with a 8.5 million signing bonus....

BlackandBlue 04-03-2003 01:29 PM

Saints rumor mill: Not talking about Jones talks, if there w
 
checkmate


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