On Monday morning, Nick Underhill of The New Orleans Advocate reported that “The Saints are shopping Delvin Breaux, per source.” The news comes amid some concerns about Breaux’s health as he’s missed a majority of training camp with a leg contusion.
The Saints are shopping Delvin Breaux, per source. They’re frustrated with his injury history over the last three years.
— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) August 14, 2017
Delvin Breaux emerged as the Saints’ top cornerback in 2015, his rookie season. His play was nothing short of encouraging after making the transition from the CFL, and it seemed as if he was ready to become a Pro Bowl corner. However, his season was derailed by injuries last year after he suffered a broken fibula in Week 1 and then was placed on the injured reserve late in the season after injuring his shoulder.
A leg contusion has kept him out of practice for more than a week now, and Josh Katzenstein of The Times-Picayune reported that an X-Ray revealed a more serious injury. It is clear that members of the organization are frustrated with how much time he has missed.
From the outside looking in, there appear to be two possible reasons for the trade reports: Sean Payton wants to put the heat on Breaux and get him back on the field or the team is genuinely looking to trade him.
The first option seems to be the least plausible. Is there a chance the team is unhappy with the progress of his rehab? Of course. However, I’m of the belief that every player’s primary goal is to be on the field and playing. I think it’s highly unlikely that Breaux is nursing the injury, and given that recent X-Rays show a more serious ailment, chances are Breaux simply hasn’t been physically able to play.
Additionally, I’d be apprehensive about labeling Breaux as “injury prone”. His rookie season was a relatively healthy one, and the broken fibula last year was a freak injury. Sean Payton has put a high value on availability as of late as displayed by the releases of Dannell Ellerbe and Jairus Byrd, but Breaux hasn’t dealt with nagging injuries as the two previously listed did. Perhaps the threat of a trade will force Breaux back to the field sooner than he anticipated.
In the case that Payton is indeed looking to trade Breaux, I’m puzzled about how the trade could be beneficial. Yes, it’s frustrating to have players miss extended periods of time because of injuries, but I don’t see any potential trade bringing the Saints much in return. First off, at age 27, Breaux is by no means young for a cornerback. A team would not be trading for some young rising star. An aging cornerback with injury concerns simply won’t bring in a high-round draft pick. The other reason why a trade would not make sense is the fact that he is incredibly cheap; his cap hit for the 2017 season is only $619,000 according to overthecap.com. There is absolutely no financial reason to cut him.
It wouldn’t hurt to keep Delvin Breaux on the roster for the season. His injury is still not considered to be long-term. If he is kept on the roster, there is the chance that he plays at the level he reached in 2015. The addition of a player of that caliber to the Saints’ defense would undoubtedly boost the group’s performance. If for some reason he isn’t healthy after Week 5 (the Saints’ bye week), the team could place him on injured reserve and eventually part ways.
The willingness to trade Breaux shows that the team has a tremendous amount of confidence in their young and unproven group of corners. P.J. Williams and Marshon Lattimore would presumably be the starters outside, and either Sterling Moore or De’Vante Harris would play in the slot. With the depth at safety, the team could also resort to the three-safety sets they employed last year.
The answer to this complicated situation should come in the next few weeks. Will Delvin Breaux magically be healthy in a few days or will he be finding himself in the airport headed out of New Orleans? Only time will tell…