The Saints got very little value in return for C.J. Gardner-Johnson when they traded with the Eagles.
The New Orleans Saints are struggling, and there’s no doubt that one of the areas holding them back is of significant importance: Quarterback.
Andy Dalton is a veteran and extremely methodical, but he doesn’t have the X-Factor that is going to win you big games and create big moments.
Jameis Winston might have that X-Factor, but his trust in his big-play ability sometimes dwarfs the ability itself, leading to turnovers and missed opportunities for the easy and positive but less sexy play.
There are plent of issues the Saints need to figure out, but for the future, and right now, the quarterback is one of them. Dalton is the starter for the foreseeable future which might work for this year, but he’s a veteran closing in on retirement.
Some Saints fans pointed out an opportunity the team could have easily pursued before the season began. Let’s look into whether or not that would have been worth it.
Saints could have tried for Gardner Minshew when they traded C.J. Gardner Johnson to the Eagles
When the Saints traded C.J. Gardner-Johnson to the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this year, it was a disappointing move for fans that put logic before emotion. Gardner-Johnson was intense, sometimes too intense. In addition to being a solid defensive back, he was part of the soul and personality of the team.
Gardner-Johnson and the Saints couldn’t agree on contract negotiations, though, and that led to the team looking to trade him.
Because it was well known that CJGJ and the team weren’t on the best of terms, it was hard for New Orleans to get much value out of the deal. When they sent him to Philly, they got a fifth- and sixth-round draft pick in return. Not much for the player who now leads the NFL in interceptions with five.
Some Saints fans, now frustrated with the quarterback situation, commented on Reddit that the team should have tried to get Gardner Minshew in that deal, who is the Eagles’ backup QB.
Minshew was probably available if the Saints really wanted to push for him. There was a lot of buzz at the end of last year and before this season began that the Eagles should try to move Minshew, who is one of the better and more popular backups in the league.
The Saints were, at the time, convinced one of their options could perform fine at quarterback. That bet has not exactly paid off. Would they be better off with Minshew?
Gardner Minshew as a long-term QB option is murky
No doubt, the Gardner Minshew story is inspiring, fun, whatever you want to call it. He gives off great, underdog vibes, impressing as a sixth-round draft pick. With the Jaguars and Eagles he has thrown 41 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, totaling nearly 6,000 yards in 22 starts. He averages 214 passing yards per game.
Most impressive is what Minshew was able to do in Jacksonville with such little talent.
There’s no question that if the Saints really wanted to squeeze Minshew out of the deal, they could have. The Eagles obtained Minshew for a conditional sixth-round pick when they traded with the Jags. So perhaps the Saints could have simply gotten Minshew instead of the picks, or even subbed out the fifth-round pick for Minshew instead.
But would that have changed their fortunes much? Minshew would probably be a better option than the default at QB in New Orleans right now. It’s important to remember, though, that backup quarterbacks are somewhat hard to gauge.
Taysom Hill, Saints’ utility man and sometimes-QB is evidence of that. The Saints run Hill occasionally as a quarterback and have a very limited look of plays for him. Part of the reason he’s hard to counter from a defensive standpoint is simply that there’s not enough information on him for defenses to prepare.
Give someone like Hill or Minshew full-time starter status and they might get figured out by opposing teams after a few games.
So, maybe Minshew would have been good for the Saints as a stopgap quarterback this year, but that still doesn’t solve their future. Minshew is a free agent after this year, so trading for him with the Eagles would have been little more than a band-aid solution to the same problems the team is facing now.
If the Saints did believe in him as a quarterback option then — which it seems like they did not — they could just as easily go after him in the open market this offseason.
Would they be better off with him this year? Maybe. Would it solve their long-term, directionless future issues? Not even close.
It’s an interesting idea to consider what the Saints could have done instead, but it’s revisionist history that doesn’t hold much water.