New Orleans messed up big-time this off-season with Darren Sproles. They misjudged the market and got much less for Sproles than they could have.
The Saints falsely assumed that Sproles, a 31-year old player at a position where 30-year olds are typically sent to the family farm, wouldn’t generate much interest from other teams.
They were wrong.
As soon as it became public that New Orleans was going to release Sproles, it became a story. The Saints decided to keep Sproles and trade him, but at that point the cat was way out of the bag and the Saints lost all leverage. You don’t see a bidding war at a store that’s going out of business. In the end, the Eagles’ fifth-round pick was the best offer on the table. A fleecing of New Orleans by the Eagles.
The Saints misjudged three things:
1. They misjudged how weak this year’s free agent class was, specifically regarding offensive weapons. Outside of Eric Decker, there really wasn’t an offensive difference-maker on the market. Considering that average skill players are typically bigger names than elite defensive players and linemen, Sproles became the second-biggest name on the market.
2. They misjudged how attractive Sproles’ versatility was around the league. In a league where only 53 players can be on a roster and only 46 are allowed to dress, Sproles ability to fill starting PR, starting KR, #3 RB AND #4 WR all at the same time made him attractive to a lot of teams. Regardless of offense, every team in the NFL could use Sproles. You can’t say that for most free agents.
3. They misjudged how much fantasy football has made Sproles a big name. Sproles is a star, a household name. The trade to the Eagles was the top story on ESPN for a while today. When you have a star player available, you can get unfair value for him. Revis is a great corner, but Tampa seriously overpaid for him. Why? Because he’s a big name. Brent Grimes doesn’t get that kind of money, but is a very solid CB who gives you 90% of what Revis does for 40% of the price.
Sproles is a much bigger name than New Orleans realized. His versatility is much more valuable than New Orleans realized. And this free agent class was a lot less sexy than New Orleans realized.
And the Eagles took advantage.