FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer reports Saints-Antonio Brown union unlikely this year

FOX Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer is tight with New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, and he reports an Antonio Brown union isn’t likely.

Few reporters can boast a tight relationship with New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, but FOX Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer can. Glazer and Payton have been close friends for nearly two decades, commonly spotted together on floats during Mardi Gras and in restaurants during a night on the town.

Glazer has used that connection to get the scoop on several big moves from within New Orleans — ranging from Jimmy Graham getting traded to the Seattle Seahawks to Payton signing a five-year contract extension earlier this year. On Sunday, he weighed in on Payton’s impression of free agent wide receiver Antonio Brown.

According to Glazer’s report, the Saints warned Brown not to bring an entourage with him to the team practice facility before Friday’s tryout. Instead, he showed up at Airline Drive with a three-man camera crew, a personal nutritionist, and a few other hangers-on. Only Brown was allowed entry, and the crowd on his doorstep didn’t exactly rub Payton the right way.

Additionally, Glazer characterized Brown’s performance in that workout as “he didn’t think he was going to play this year,” which isn’t a very glowing endorsement. And considering that he’s informed from Payton himself, well, things aren’t looking promising for Brown to join the Saints — for the playoffs or otherwise.

It’s just the latest misbehavior from Brown, who has butted heads with everyone from his previous coaches (Mike Tomlin with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Jon Gruden with the Oakland Raiders) to team executives (Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and Raiders general manager Mike Mayock, and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft). He hasn’t exactly gotten off to the right start with Payton, but at least he’s apparently rooting for the Saints on Sunday.

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Report: Saints one of three teams interested in signing Antonio Brown

The New Orleans Saints are reportedly among three teams interested in signing free agent wide receiver Antonio Brown, a four-time All-Pro.

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Will the New Orleans Saints sign Antonio Brown? It’s possible. Brown is one of several veteran wide receivers who worked out for the team on Friday, giving them an opportunity to compare the four-time All-Pro against some of his peers. Brown has only appeared in one game this season, with a series of off-field issues driving a wedge between him and his NFL prospects.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that the Saints are among three teams considering whether to sign Brown, per Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus. While the identities of those other two teams are unclear, it’s probably safe to assume that none of Brown’s previous squads — the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, and New England Patriots — are among them after he thoroughly burnt those bridges.

This information adds a new wrinkle to New Orleans’ decision-making process. What if one of the teams interested in signing Brown is a potential playoff opponent, like the Seattle Seahawks (who reportedly considered him in the past, before adding Josh Gordon)? The threat of Brown being suspended while the NFL investigates two separate sexual assault allegations made against him hangs over the whole situation like the sword of Damocles, but it’s not a sure-thing that he will be suspended during the playoffs.

There’s a very real scenario where Brown signs with a Super Bowl contender and visits the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the postseason, the same venue he torched with 14 receptions for 185 yards and 2 touchdown catches just a year ago. That may not be a risk the Saints can afford, especially if they like what they’ve learned from Brown enough to sign him anyway.

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Bill Belichick nonplussed by Antonio Brown’s Saints tryout

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick kept his thoughts on Antonio Brown’s tryout with the New Orleans Saints characteristically muted.

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The New Orleans Saints put free agent wide receiver Antonio Brown through a free agent tryout on Friday, sending a ripple effect throughout the NFL. That news eventually reached one of Brown’s former bosses — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who cut Brown after two accusations of sexual assault were leveled against him back in September. Brown responded with a lengthy, explicit social media tirade.

As for Belichick: when asked whether he had a reaction to news of Brown’s workout with the Saints, his first contact with an NFL team since the Patriots released him, the Patriots head coach kept his comments characteristically brief.

“Focused on Miami. Doesn’t really have anything to do with us,” Belichick told NESN’s Doug Kyed.

Brown only played in one game this year with New England, catching 4 of his 7 targets for 56 yards and a touchdown. He also logged one rushing attempt for five yards. The 7.0 yards per target Brown averaged so far in 2019 is the lowest mark of his career, which is probably due to playing with a washed-up quarterback in Tom Brady (who ranks 26th in yards per pass attempt). There’s no doubt Drew Brees (tied for 10th-best) would be an improvement, if the Saints do indeed sign him.

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Why are the Saints bothering with Antonio Brown?

A lack of depth behind Michael Thomas led the New Orleans Saints to put Antonio Brown through a workout with other free agent wide receivers

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The New Orleans Saints sent a shock-wave through the NFL on Friday when they included ex-Pittsburgh Steelers, -Oakland Raiders, and -New England Patriots wideout Antonio Brown among a group of free agents trying out for the team. Well, Brown sent the shock-wave by leaking his workout waiver form on social media.

And that’s the problem with him. His legal battles (and potential league suspension) notwithstanding, Brown is a constant headache on social media who obsesses over letting everyone see what he’s doing with his life. He’s almost a living caricature of what a “diva wide receiver” would look and act like in a movie about professional football players.

Unfortunately, the Saints aren’t in position to overlook him as an option. Michael Thomas has proven to be their only competent wide receiver (and to his credit, he’s more than competent — he’s the best in the NFL) through 16 games. Thomas has hauled in 116 more receptions for 1,277 more yards than the next-best wide receiver (Ted Ginn Jr., who has caught 29 passes for 411 yards). The team’s depth at the position in razor-thin.

It’s not like the Saints didn’t try to address the wide receiver position sooner. They hoped Tre’Quan Smith and Keith Kirkwood would each progress in their second year in the NFL, but Smith has been a ghost for much of the year while Kirkwood went on injured reserve and didn’t return. The Saints gambled that Cameron Meredith was a better bet to return from his knee injury than Willie Snead would be to rebound from a down year, and that blew up in their faces. Rookies Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Emmanuel Butler haven’t shown enough to get off the practice squad. Great as he is on special teams, Deonte Harris is very much a work-in-progress on offense.

And now Thomas is injured. He’s been limited in two days of practice on the Saints injury report, while managing a hand issue. ESPN’s Mike Triplett reported that Brown’s visit is not related to Thomas’ hand injury, characterizing it as more of like the Saints doing their due diligence. That lines up with another report from his ESPN colleague Adam Schefter, who noted that the Saints are trying out multiple free agent wideouts, such as Maurice Harris.

Earlier this week, Saints coach Sean Payton was asked how deep the “ready list” runs for defensive backs — referring to the free agents well-known by the team internally. The Saints were quick to claim Janoris Jenkins on waivers and sign D.J. Swearinger and DeShawn Shead in free agency when injuries struck the secondary, prompting the question. Ironically, Payton’s comments could now extend to the wide receiver room.

Payton said, “Typically, the ready list is players that aren’t on the roster that we’ve got graded and if a game ended Sunday, we could call Sunday night and we feel like we’ve got a pretty clean evaluation on them. I’d say usually four or five deep at various positions. There are four or five tight ends, four or five receivers. You’ve got a list of players that you feel like you know who they are and what they can do or can’t do.”

So this could all just be a fact-finding mission to see if Brown’s body is right, though his behavior appears to be just as chaotic as always. If Brown isn’t moving well in the tryout or shows the Saints something that troubles them, they can move on to the other free agent options they’ve brought in without second-guessing themselves. He’s effectively on a policy of “one-strike, you’re out.”

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Saints working out free agent WR Antonio Brown

The New Orleans Saints worked out WR Antonio Brown, the All-Pro who got himself traded by the Steelers and cut by the Raiders and Patriots.

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The New Orleans Saints are working out free agent wide receiver Antonio Brown on Friday, the four-time former All-Pro announced from his official Instagram account. His visit was confirmed by reports from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who characterized the meeting as the Saints “doing their due diligence” on the talented but troubled free agent.

Brown wasn’t in New Orleans beyond sundown before he involved the Saints in his always-going social media firestorm, sharing a photo of the text from a confidential free agent waiver form he signed to work out with the team. He later deleted it from his account, though he still confirmed the tryout in another post.

There’s no doubting Brown’s skills on the football field. He’s set records that Michael Thomas has broken this year, and was coveted by all three of the teams he signed with already this year — the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, and New England Patriots. But Brown’s numerous legal troubles range from unpaid speeding tickets to alleged sexual assault, which the NFL is still investigating. Not to mention the headaches he’s causing on social media.

Because Brown has not been signed with a team since the Patriots cut him, he is not qualified for the Commissioner’s Exempt List. The NFL said earlier this year that, “If he is signed by a club, such placement may become appropriate at any time depending on the status of the investigation.” In other words, Brown is likely to be suspended before the ink dries on any contract he signs, with the Saints or anyone else. Still, this is a situation to monitor as the Saints move forwards without consistent production opposite Thomas at wide receiver.

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What does new Saints cornerback Janoris Jenkins bring to the table?

The New Orleans Saints may have brought in a serious upgrade to their defense by claiming ex-New York Giants CB Janoris Jenkins on waivers.

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The New Orleans Saints were able to make a bold acquisition late in the season this week by claiming Janoris Jenkins on waivers from the New York Giants. Jenkins was one of Big Blue’s most-experienced defenders and a cornerstone of the defensive secondary, but a recent ankle injury and social media mess made him available. And the Saints didn’t hesitate to take a shot on him.

But what are they getting? Jenkins has a reputation as a gambler in coverage, often betting on his athleticism and aggression to win at the catch point. That strategy has worked in 2019 — he’s already tied his career-high for interceptions (4, with 14 total passes defensed), which is more than any every other Saints cornerback combined (3). But Jenkins has also drawn plenty of penalties (6 accepted), which trails only the player he’s likely competing with for a starting job in New Orleans (Eli Apple, who has been flagged eight times). Unlike Apple, Jenkins creates as many positive plays as negative moments he’s at fault for.

And that’s an upgrade for the Saints. The stats don’t tell the whole story with him, so we ran back the tape on his 2019 games to see if it holds true. And after doing that, we’re left asking: what were the Giants thinking waiving him, and how did he slip all the way down to New Orleans?

Jenkins is a smart player who consistently gets his head around on downfield routes. Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen preaches the need to communicate, saying that a loud defense is a confident defense, and Jenkins embodies that philosophy. He’s constantly checking with the depth of his safeties behind him and waving teammates into position when they’re moving slowly. He shows a good awareness of route combinations and often makes the right decision to pass his man off and pick up a receiver as they move into his zone.

And when Jenkins is in position to compete for a pass, he often gets a hand on the ball. It’s a credit to his opponents when they’re able to beat him in those contested-catch situations. When he’s able to get both hands on the football, he rarely drops it.

He isn’t a perfect player. Jenkins is 30, and doesn’t enjoy the same athleticism he possessed when he was younger. There are moments where opponents are able to get a step on him and he can’t recover — it happened twice early in Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when Mike Evans put space between them on an 18-yard crossing route during the opening drive. That first Tampa Bay possession ended with a 21-yard touchdown pass when Evans flashed past Jenkins when he was in off-coverage over the slot.

And there are frustrating plays when Jenkins commits a foul for no reason. In Week 13 against the Green Bay Packers, Jenkins drew a defensive holding penalty on third down when the pass fell incomplete to another part of the field. He wasn’t beaten on the quick out route, but grabbed a fistful of his receiver’s jersey too far downfield, wiping out what would have been a good play for the Giants defense.

So it’s fair for fans to mute their expectations of this addition. Jenkins is a talented player whose best football is behind him, but he can still help this team pursue a Super Bowl win. Even if he still draws penalties at too-high a rate and slips up in coverage sometimes, Jenkins’ penchant for heads-up plays and his expansive NFL experience is worth giving him a shot. Saints coach Sean Payton described the addition as a low-risk, high-reward move, and the game tape supports that take. We’ll see soon whether things go as planned for Jenkins and the Saints.

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Saints work out free agent pass rushers including Noah Spence, Shane Ray

The New Orleans Saints are managing injuries along their defensive line, so they worked out free agents like Noah Spence and Shane Ray.

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The New Orleans Saints worked out several veteran pass rushers on Tuesday, per a report from Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Wilson reported that players involved in the tryouts included Noah Spence, Shane Ray, and Chris Smith. With two starting defensive linemen sidelined by injuries against the San Francisco 49ers last week (Sheldon Rankins and Marcus Davenport each exited the game) and a top backup on the mend after taking a painful shot to the knee (Trey Hendrickson), it makes sense for the Saints to consider their options.

Spence was frequently connected to the Saints ahead of the 2016 NFL Draft; the team met with him extensively before that year’s Reese’s Senior Bowl and hosted him in New Orleans on an official visit, which reportedly went well. Spence finished his college career at Eastern Kentucky after initially playing with the Ohio State Buckeyes, making him one of several prospects the Saints studied (they ended up drafting both Michael Thomas and Vonn Bell in the second round that year, each of whom played with Spence at Ohio State). However, Spence failed to gain traction after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected him, and was waived during roster cuts before the 2019 season.

Ray was a highly-touted former first-round draft pick by the Denver Broncos out of Missouri, but injuries and ineffectiveness resulted in him testing free agency after his contract expired. The Baltimore Ravens took a shot on him over the summer but waived him during roster cuts, and he hasn’t yet caught on with another team.

It’s a similar story for Chris Smith, who spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals before playing for the Cleveland Browns this season. The sixth-year pro was released in early December after signing a three-year contract with the Browns back in March.

At this point in their careers, each of these players are probably going to make their best impact at the end of a pass-rush rotation. Katherine Terrell of The Athletic reported that it doesn’t appear the Saints are looking to add any new players at this time, instead using these veteran workouts as an opportunity to update in-house scouting report.

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