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You’d be hard-pressed to find a free agent signing who excited New Orleans Saints fans as strongly as Darren Sproles, who immediately made an impact on the Saints’ offense and special teams units when they padded him back in 2011. Sproles spoke about his experience in the NFL and New Orleans on the Truss Levelz podcast with Cameron Jordan and Mark Ingram II.

But things fell apart by 2013, as Sproles’ usage on offense became more predictable and opposing defenses began to key in on their intentions. Sproles said he planned to sign with a division rival after the Saints made plans to cut him, prompting them to trade him instead.

“Sean (Payton) called us and was like, ‘We’re going to release you,’” Sproles said, thinking back on the phone call with his agent. He saw an upside in that split because it would allow him to choose his destination, “Cool, go ahead, then I’ll get to pick where I go. Two days later and they still hadn’t released me, my agent’s on the phone with the Falcons, the Saints had found out that I was going to go to the Falcons so they was like, ‘Oh, no, we’re just going to trade (you).’”

Obviously, that’s not what the outcome he hoped for, and Atlanta wasn’t going to cut a deal with New Orleans to get him. So other trade partners emerged — with Sproles vetoing one of them right away.

“So the two teams was Philly, Minnesota, and the Redskins. I told my agent if they traded me to the Redskins, I’m not going. That was going to be a jacked-up trade, I’m not going,” Sproles said, referring to the chronic organizational disruption that has plagued Washington’s team over the years.

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Instead, he went to another NFC East team and found more success. Sproles earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl recognition with the Eagles, as well as a Super Bowl ring. He finished, “Everything happened for a reason. I wanted the Saints mad at that trade, you know what I’m saying? And they was. That (expletive) hurt me though.”

Were the Saints feeling some remorse about parting ways with Sproles? Payton has all but said as much, gushing about everything he brought to the Eagles offense ahead of their matchup in the 2018 playoffs, which was a sentiment shared by Drew Brees. In the end, Sproles experienced continued success and found more opportunities in Philadelphia, where he began working in the Eagles personnel department back in 2020. It’s a shame he didn’t finish his playing career in New Orleans, but Sproles certainly left his mark on the Saints.