imagn's Chuck Cook

The New Orleans Saints were aggressive in trading for an additional first-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. Philadelphia is sending the No. 16 overall and No. 19 overall selections in the 2022 NFL Draft to New Orleans in exchange for No. 18 overall, No. 101 overall, No. 237 overall, a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 second-round pick, both teams announced Monday afternoon. The Eagles are also sending the No. 194 overall pick to the Saints. 

There have been a number of rumors surrounding the Saints' reasoning behind the trade. It was suggested that they wanted to get ahead of Los Angeles to draft an offensive tackle. The trade was made more than three weeks before the start of the 2022 NFL Draft. The Chargers could trade with the same Eagles organization at No. 15 overall to get back ahead of the Saints. It boils down to the understanding that the NFC South franchise would make this deal on draft night if that was the purpose of the move. The theory holds no water. 

It was also floated around that the Saints could be interested in trading up inside the top 10 to select an offensive tackle or quarterback. The No. 16 overall and No. 19 overall selections would be enticing to any team in a possible trade-up scenario. However, if Houston or the Giants were on the other end of the phone, those future draft assets just traded to Philadelphia, would have presumably been of more interest than an additional pick this year. Both teams could have used those picks to trade up in the event that they decided to draft a quarterback next year. 

In 2016, Philadelphia traded up from No. 13 overall to No. 8 overall before making the final move up to No. 2 overall where they selected Carson Wentz. Perhaps New Orleans needed to orchestrate a deal for a stepping stone first. Even if the intent were to trade up for a quarterback, it would entirely be too rich for me personally. The talent of these quarterbacks does not justify an investment of two-plus first-round picks considering the Philadelphia trade and the eventual selection of the player. 

The other theory -- the one in which I now subscribe -- is one that CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora articulated well in a Wednesday column. New Orleans is looking around the NFC and seeing an opportunity to compete for a playoff spot this season. The Vikings saw a similar chance. The conference has cast away Russell Wilson, Khalil Mack, Matt Ryan, Davante Adams, Von Miller, Randy Gregory and more this off-season. The Saints could fill holes at wide receiver, left tackle and be a well-rounded football team. The ceiling is not that high with Jameis Winston at quarterback, however. Do not take my word for it, just look at what New Orleans has already done this off-season. They went all in for a potential Deshaun Watson trade knowing the whole time that they could just re-sign Winston. When the Watson trade slipped through their fingers, they signed Winston to a short-term deal worth low-end starting money. Is this Saints team -- without Sean Payton mind you -- going to outduel Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Tom Brady to advance to the Super Bowl?

It feels like the Saints mortgaged the future to get into the playoffs and bow out in the first round. If things go sideways this season, then they no longer have a 2023 first-round pick or 2024 second-round pick to maneuver for a quarterback. It sets the franchise back a few years while they chase a rainbow. 

If the thought process was to add two quality players of need, then why not negotiate terms with Philadelphia now and execute the trade on draft night based upon how picks before the selection pan out? What the Saints do from here is very intriguing but it is hard to envision a scenario in which this does not blow up in their faces. In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Saints traded up into the first round and everyone assumed the move was made to select Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. Instead, the team took Texas-San Antonio edge rusher Marcus Davenport

The Eagles, meanwhile, come away as bandits. They maintain flexibility in the 2022 NFL Draft while buying flexibility the next two years as well. La Canfora cited as much in the linked article above. Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman has been opportunistic when it comes to trades of draft picks.