Report: Rita LeBlanc, Gayle Benson got into physical altercation at Saints game last season, sparked Tom Benson's ownership changes

New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson walks with his wife Gayle Benson, left, and co-owner Rita Benson LeBlanc before an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) ORG XMIT: NYOTK

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At pivotal time for Saints, here’s a position-by-position look at how their offseason might unfold

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton watch the replay of Graham's touchdown attempt that was ruled as a stripped ball and recovery by the Atlanta Falcons in a NFL football game in the Superdome in New Orleans, La. Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014.

Disappointing seasons often lead to sweeping change — especially when said season began with championship aspirations. We’ve already seen some of the pieces fall for the New Orleans Saints. Major changes have been made to the coaching staff, and coach Sean Payton has spoken out about the lack of leadership in his locker room. What we haven’t seen is… Continue reading →

Evolving running back market could affect Mark Ingram and the Saints

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) holds the football after scoring against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a 1-yard touchdown run during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

When discussing his free-agent prospects at the Super Bowl, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell said he was going to be “the prettiest girl at the dance.” The implications were clear. Maxwell was coming off a good season and there weren’t many other quality cornerbacks scheduled to hit the open market. Maxwell knew then that… Continue reading →

Saints use tracking data in practices to help prevent injuries, gain better understanding

Associated Press photo by CHARLES REX ARBOGAST -- New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton watches during the first half against the Chicago Bears on Monday.

For years, NFL teams have gone through the process of preparing for an upcoming opponent based on gut feelings and have done things a certain way because that’s the way things have always been done. It worked before, so why wouldn’t it work now? But as technology and data have become more available and accessible, teams are finding… Continue reading →

Saints draft prospects: Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes

Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes at the NFL combine (Associated Press)

. Not only do the Saints need an edge rusher but they also need to fill the void at cornerback across from Keenan Lewis. Enter Michigan State’s Trae Waynes, who is the clear number one cornerback prospect in the draft, who would bring a dose of physicality to Rob Ryan’s secondary. Click here… Continue reading →

Saints coach Sean Payton, General Manager Mickey Loomis ranked fifth-best coach-general manager combo in NFL

Saints coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis (AP)

. The working relationship and sharing of ideas between Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis is the foundation on which the Saints are built. This is no secret and more often than not, those two men know how to concoct a winning formula. This is why NFL.com has named them one of the best coach-general manager combinations… Continue reading →

ESPN's Tod McShay has Clemson pass rusher Vic Beasley with the Saints in his latest mock draft

Clemson defensive lineman Vic Beasley is measured at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

. Many people believe Vic Beasley worked himself into the top 10 with a strong performance at the combine, putting him out of reach for the New Orleans Saints. Todd McShay isn’t among those people. The ESPN draft analyst projects the Saints will be able to select the Clemson pass rusher with the 13th pick in… Continue reading →

Saints draft prospects: Kentucky defensive end and outside linebacker Bud Dupree

Kentucky linebacker Bud Dupree talks with reporters during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

. The Saints need pass rushers. Bud Dupree is a very good pass rusher. This form of math isn’t difficult. While he’s raw and needs refinement, he has the natural ability that could make him very enticing to NFL teams. It also helps that he’s a physical freak. Guys of his stature are not supposed to… Continue reading →

Rating how the Saints have fared in their draft trades since 2006

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD --  New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) sweeps wide against the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Saints love to move around the draft board. Since Sean Payton came to town in 2006, he and general manager Mickey Loomis have engaged in a trade involving draft picks in every season with both men at the helm. This has allowed New Orleans to move around the board and select the players it wants, but if there… Continue reading →

Detroit Lions release running back Reggie Bush

FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2012 file photo, Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush stretches during warmups before the start of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Miami. The biggest move Wednesday, March 13, 2013, was made by Detroit, which agreed with Bush on a four-year deal to fill a huge hole at running back. (AP Photo/Rhona Wise, File)

As expected, the Detroit Lions parted ways with veteran running back Reggie Bush on Wednesday. Releasing Bush, 29, saves Detroit $1.7 million against the salary cap. He rushed for 297 yards on 76 carries and caught 40 passes for 253 yards last season. Bush began his career in New Orleans and averaged 4.0 yards per carry and 7.3 yards per reception during… Continue reading →

Saints hire Fitz Ollison as new communications director

. The Saints announced the hiring of Fitz Ollison as the team’s new Senior Director of Football Communications. Ollison, who has worked in the NFL for 15 years, previously held the same position with the Miami Dolphins, where he assisted in the management of public image and overall communications strategy for the organization. Continue reading →

Mock NFL draft roundup: Saints might pick former LSU offensive tackle La'el Collins

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU head coach Les Miles poses with LSU offensive tackle La'El Collins (70) and family members, during Senior Day activities before the Alabama game, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014 in Baton Rouge.

With all of the top pass rushers off the board, the Saints select LSU’s La’el Collins with the 13th pick in NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah latest mock draft. Many have projected New Orleans will take a pass rusher with its first-round pick, but strong combine performances from Clemson’s Vic Beasley, Missouri’s Shane Ray, and Florida’s Dante Fowler… Continue reading →

Do more draft picks mean more success? The Saints have had the fewest amount of draft picks in the NFL since 2006

Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis has some decisions to make as the free agency period starts this spring.

. It’s become a generally accepted truth that the best way to win in the draft is to maximize the number of opportunities you have to hit on a pick. Most believe the draft is a roll of the dice and that you will only hit on about 60 percent of your picks. So, the logic… Continue reading →

LSU’s Jalen Collins has mixed results at NFL combine. How did other Louisiana athletes fare?

Associated Press photo by David J. Phillip -- LSU defensive back Jalen Collins runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine Monday in Indianapolis.

Jalen Collins’ meteoric offseason rise continued at the NFL scouting combine with a strong performance in Monday’s off-field work. The LSU cornerback ran a 4.48-second time in the 40-yard dash, then jumped a respectable 36 inches in the vertical jump and 124 inches in the broad jump. While he was putting together that performance,… Continue reading →

Former Saints player Steve Gleason says he was hospitalized last weekend, scheduled to return home Monday

Former Saints player Steve Gleason, whose fight against ALS has capitivated the nation and led to a "No White Flags" movement to raise awareness about the disease, was admitted to the hospital last weekend and hopes to return home on Monday. The information about Gleason was posted on the Team Gleason facebook page. "Some has speculated… Continue reading →

Black and Gold blog: Source says Patrick Robinson, Saints have mutual interest in new deal

The Saints have held preliminary contract discussions with cornerback Patrick Robinson and there is “mutual interest” in reaching an agreement, according to a source. Robinson, a former first-round pick, is set to reach free agency. If a deal is not reached, the cornerback will be free to sign with another team when the league year begins on March 10. Robinson… Continue reading →

Ex-LSU cornerback Jalen Collins’ stature is growing, even if he’s just a tad shorter than advertised

Associated Press photo by DOUG McSCHOOLER -- LSU defensive back Jalen Collins talks with reporters during a news conference Saturday at the NFL combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS — Jalen Collins might have checked off the most important item on his checklist at the scouting combine when he measured in at 6-foot-1. It turned out his listed height with LSU was a farce. But it was only a farce by an inch. If it had been off by, say, two inches,… Continue reading →

Jeff Ireland, the New Orleans Saints’ new director of college scouting, on the ‘grind’ to get set for NFL draft

Associated Press file photo by LYNNE SLADKY -- Jeff Ireland, the New Orleans Saints' new director of college scouting, watches the Miami Dolphins practice in July 2013, when he was that team's general manager, in Davie, Fla.

INDIANAPOLIS — Jeff Ireland isn’t going to answer ‘yes’ and simply try to blend in and do things a certain way just because that’s the way they’ve always been done. No, the New Orleans Saints new director of college scouting didn’t show up and start throwing elbows. But he also isn’t going to sit back… Continue reading →

Saints GM Mickey Loomis talks about the value of trading up versus trading down in the NFL Draft

Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis has some decisions to make as the free agency period starts this spring.

. INDIANAPOLIS — After the Super Bowl, I was asked to write a column comparing the Saints and the Patriots, the team I previously covered for four years. In doing that comparison, I noted the Patriots have had nearly 30 more draft picks than New Orleans since 2006. Like many other teams, fans and media often… Continue reading →

New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson says team will not increase ticket prices this year

Advocate file photo by RUSTY COSTANZA -- New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson smiles at team headquarters in Metairie in 2012.

INDIANAPOLIS — In a letter to fans, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson thanked them for sticking with the team over the last “few difficult weeks” and said the Saints will not increase ticket prices this season. Benson also wrote that the team is working to make significant investments to enhance the fan experience at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome… Continue reading →

Black and Gold blog: Why did Saints meet with ex-Florida State QB Jameis Winston at NFL Combine?

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston talks with the media during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

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INDIANAPOLIS — Too much attention is paid to which teams are meeting with which players at the combine. I’m guilty of it. I’ve reported on this very blog the names of a few players who are meeting with the Saints. But between formal and informal interviews, members of the Saints brass will probably meet with more than 100 players… Continue reading →

Saints owner Tom Benson in letter to fans: Thanks for support 'over the last few difficult weeks'; no ticket price increases

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson and his wife Gayle sit in on the press conference as head coach Sean Payton talks about the Saints reporting for 2013 Training Camp including meetings, physicals, and conditioning at the Saints Training Facility in Metairie, Thursday, July 25, 2013.

. In a letter written to fans, Saints owner Tom Benson thanked fans for sticking with the team over the last “few difficult weeks,” and said the team will not be increasing ticket prices this season. Benson also wrote that the team is working to make significant investments to enhance the fan experience at the Mercedes-Benz… Continue reading →

Analytics play role for Saints in locating, evaluating draft prospects, says Mickey Loomis

Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis has some decisions to make as the free agency period starts this spring.

INDIANAPOLIS — Everyone can look at the guys standing under the brightest lights at the combine or universally listed in the endless flood of mock drafts that rush the Internet. Those players are obvious. But somewhere, as everyone looks to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of the biggest names, behind the screen on his… Continue reading →

Former Ohio State receiver Devin Smith says the Saints would "be a great fit" for him

Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith answers a question during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

. INDIANAPOLIS — If you’re a young wide receiver with dreams of making spectacular catches in an offense that loves to air it out, it would make sense to envision Drew Brees as the guy throwing you passes. So, when Ohio State product Devin Smith was asked how he would feel about playing in the New… Continue reading →

College systems have made it more difficult for NFL teams to evaluate quarterbacks

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, left, pushes away Florida State safety Tyler Hunter during the first half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football playoff semifinal, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

INDIANAPOLIS — While the New Orleans Saints won’t make a selection until a dozen picks later, the first player taken will play a role in the team’s outcomes for the foreseeable future. The Saints will twice per year be granted a front-row seat to watch the development of whomever the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select with… Continue reading →

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton talks about improving team’s leadership

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton talks with quarterback Drew Brees against the Green Bay Packers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Oct. 26, 2014.

INDIANAPOLIS — Like many of his players, Sean Payton believes one of the reasons his team struggled last season was due to a lack of leadership. The Saints coach was not shy about sharing his feelings during an interview with Pro Football Talk on Thursday at the scouting combine when asked if he’s figured… Continue reading →

Saints coach Sean Payton hopes free-agent running back Mark Ingram returns to the team

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD --  New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) sweeps wide against the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

. INDIANAPOLIS — Sean Payton would like to see Mark Ingram back in New Orleans next season. The Saints coach wasn’t shy about sharing his feelings on the running back in a video posted by the Saints on Thursday, saying he was excited about what Ingram accomplished last season and that he would like to see… Continue reading →

Saints coach Sean Payton: Here's how Rob Ryan, Dennis Allen fit together on New Orleans' staff

Associated Press photo by CHARLES REX ARBOGAST -- New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton watches during the first half against the Chicago Bears on Monday.

. INDIANAPOLIS — Sean Payton does not believe there will be an issue with Rob Ryan and Dennis Allen both overseeing the defense. Allen, who previously served as the coach of the Oakland Raiders, was brought in last month to work as an assistant coach focusing on defense. But Payton said measures have been taken to… Continue reading →

Saints coach Sean Payton says lack of leadership was an issue for the team last season

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Saints coach Sean Payton has many difficult decisions to make this offseason to try to turn the team around.

. INDIANAPOLIS — Sean Payton dropped in on the NBC Sports studio Thursday at the scouting combine to discuss the state of the Saints. Like many of his players, the Saints coach said he felt the reason for his team’s struggles last season was due to a lack of leadership at key positions, leading to a… Continue reading →

NFL teams backing away from star running backs

Associated Press photo by Don WrightSaints running back Mark Ingram carries in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against Pittsburgh.

In recent years, the NFL turned against running backs. No longer were star backs being selected in the first round, and productive backs who reached free agency found that the lucrative deals once waiting for them were no longer available. The NFL became a passing league, and running backs were no… Continue reading →

Saints receiver Marques Colston: Not having Darren Sproles was a factor, playing with Drew Brees and the stability of Brees, coach Sean Payton is a big plus for the team

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston (12) outruns Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety Bradley McDougald to the end zone to score on a 36-yard touchdown reception during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

New Orleans Saints receiver Marques Colston joined "The Ron Jaworski Show" to talk about being a co-owner with Jaworski of the Philadelphia Soul (Arena Football League), playing with Drew Brees and not having Darren Sproles on the Saints last season. Here are some of the highlights: On how big of a problem it was for Saints coach Sean Payton to create… Continue reading →

Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace says best practice is to fill needs through free agency so draft opens up, which is probably what he learned from the Saints

. INDIANAPOLIS — The New Orleans Saints are one of a small handful of teams that are not scheduled to have formal media availability this week at the scouting combine. That means there may not be an opportunity to get the team’s thoughts on this year’s draft class or to gauge their thoughts on other areas… Continue reading →

The Sproles Effect: Analyzing the impact of losing Darren Sproles on the Saints’ offense

Associated Press photo by AJ MastPhiladelphia Eagles' Darren Sproles reacts after scoring on a 19-yard touchdown run during the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, in Indianapolis.

Before looking at any numbers or film, you would think the impact of losing Darren Sproles from the offense would be obvious. You would think the New Orleans Saints’ short-passing game suffered and Drew Brees threw more mid-range passes. You would think the offense had to compensate in some way that caused spikes in distribution charts, leading… Continue reading →

The Quarterback Debate: When should teams start looking for next franchise quarterback?

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD --   New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) passes against the Atlanta Falcons during the second quarter Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Bill Walsh modernized the way many teams view the draft. He changed the way people grade draft prospects, how they’re discussed, and put a premium on scouting the mental capabilities of players as well as their physical attributes. But one of his theories — the need to draft quarterbacks nearly every year — remains up for debate.… Continue reading →

The NFL combine is coming; who will the Saints be watching most?

Associated Press file photo by WADE PAYNE -- Florida Gators defensive lineman Dante Fowler Jr.

With the scouting combine set to begin Tuesday, the Saints likely already have an extensive shopping list of players they’d like to get a closer look at this week. The Advocate’s Nick Underhill takes a look at a handful of guys who could be on their list: Height/weight: 6-foot-5, 320 pounds The skinny:… Continue reading →

The Saints have reasonable deals with linebacker Parys Haralson, placekicker Shayne Graham

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- Saints kicker Shayne Graham celebrates his third field goal of the first half, tying the game 16-16, en route to the Saints' 44-23 win over the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 26 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

. The Saints do not have much invested in Shayne Graham and Parys Haralson. Signed to one-year contracts earlier this week, both players inked with New Orleans for the veteran’s minimum. Click here to see the report.Continue reading →

Loading up in free agency is often a perilous endeavor for NFL teams

Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis has some decisions to make as the free agency period starts this spring.

It’s already being touted as the best free agent class in history before any players become eligible to negotiate with other teams. The hype has created clamoring. The cries to load up or go after this target or that target have already begun in force. Many teams will heed those cries and make a splash.… Continue reading →

Source: Parys Haralson re-signs with New Orleans Saints

Saints linebacker Parys Haralson

The New Orleans Saints continue to take steps to ensure none of the players they value to get away. The team continued to check items off its offseason itinerary by locking up linebacker Parys Haralson and kicker Shayne Graham to one-year deals. The terms of the contracts are not yet known. Both transactions were announced by… Continue reading →

Report: Saints sign placekicker Shayne Graham to a 1-year deal

New Orleans Saints kicker Shayne Graham (3) kicks an extra point during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

. The Saints are bringing back kicker Shayne Graham for another season. According to Fox Sports, New Orleans locked up the kicker on a one-year deal. The terms of the deal were no immediately made public. Click here to see the report. Continue reading →

Saints announce 2015 coaching staff

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

During his news conference at the end of the season, Sean Payton stood at a microphone and let it be known he wasn’t going to accept the status quo. He used the word change repeatedly. His team just finished a 7-9 season and he was well aware the standard operating procedure was no longer working. On Wednesday,… Continue reading →

Saints not invited to play first game in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium for NFL preseason opener

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills (84) scores against the Cincinnati Bengals during the fourth quarter Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints lost 27-10.

. Tom Benson’s team will not be playing the first game in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. The NFL announced Tuesday that the annual Hall of Fame game on Aug. 9 in Canton, Ohio will be played between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings. Click here to see the report.Continue reading →

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. joins list of experts predicting the Saints will draft Florida defensive end Dante Fowler

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Florida defensive lineman Dante Fowler Jr. (6) chases after LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings (10) during the second half of the teams' game Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 in Gainesville. LSU won 30-27.

. It appears a consensus has been reached. And that consensus says the New Orleans Saints will select Florida linebacker/defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. with the 13th pick of the NFL draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper joined the fray by giving the Saints Fowler in his latest mock draft. Click here to see… Continue reading →

L.A. Times: Saints’ Drew Brees lists Hawaiian penthouse for $1.75 million

Advocate staff photo by Rusty Costanza -- New Orleans Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, gives the thumb up sign to fans after they yelled their congratulations to him on the birth of his daughter at Saints Camp in Metairie.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees has listed his penthouse apartment in Princeville, Hawaii, for sale, priced at $1.75 million, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. The Saints star, who lays claim to multiple investment properties, purchased the unit in 2006 for $1.761 million, records show. See the story here.… Continue reading →