Leading up to the opening round of the 2021 NFL Draft, reports claimed the New Orleans Saints wanted to trade into the top 10. The target was either going to be a top cornerback or quarterback, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
The two biggest cornerback prospects, Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II, went back-to-back at No. 8 and 9. Mac Jones, the quarterback New Orleans coveted, did fall out of the top 10, and the Saints were ready to make a move for him — or at least that’s what Michael Lombardi says.
The NFL insider recently went on The GM Shuffle podcast and claimed Jones was the guy.
“I’ve had this confirmed to me by two teams. They were trying to get up above New England to get Mac Jones,” Lombardi said, via WEEI. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. Everybody will deny it, ‘No, no, no’ … I’m telling you, they were trying to get ahead. They couldn’t get there.
“Why? Because Minnesota traded with the Jets. Minnesota didn’t go back as far as New Orleans, and they got a good deal, right? 13 wasn’t moving because (Rashawn) Slater was there. The Chargers weren’t going to move. 12 wasn’t moving because Dallas was going to pick (Micah) Parsons. 11 became (Justin) Fields. So there was nowhere for them to go, and I don’t know if the Saints called New England to try and trade for that pick or if they knew New England was going to just take Mac Jones.
“Here’s what I would say for a fact, and I’ve had this told to me by at least four people in the league. Sean Payton loved Mac Jones. If Sean Payton loved Mac Jones, Josh McDaniels loved Mac Jones, and Kyle Shanahan liked Mac Jones, Mac Jones must be a pretty good player because I think those three guys know how to evaluate good quarterbacks.”
Fascinating stuff, right?
The Saints haven’t taken a quarterback in the first round since 1971, but they were apparently more than willing to end that 50-year drought this year. Future Hall of Famer Drew Brees has retired, and an heir apparent still hasn’t been named.
Instead, the Patriots got the Alabama quarterback at No. 15 while New Orleans waited until the fourth round to take Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book. Now we’ll have to see how much that impacts both franchises moving forward.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.