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Saints acquire CB Eli Apple in trade with Giants

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Giants ship former 1st-round pick Apple to Saints (1:00)

Dan Graziano and Tim Hasselbeck break down the Giants' decision to trade CB Eli Apple to the Saints. (1:00)

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints added to their aggressive flurry of trades this year by sending fourth- and seventh-round draft picks to the New York Giants for cornerback Eli Apple on Tuesday.

The fourth-round pick is in the 2019 draft and the seventh-round pick is a 2020 selection.

"We're doing what we can right now to win football games, but we're also always looking at the roster on a short-term and a long-term basis," Giants coach Pat Shurmur said Tuesday afternoon. "We felt like it was good value. Eli has played well for us here this year. He's going to be a Saint now, and so we wish him well."

The move is a gamble, considering Apple's struggles on and off the field in New York last year. But the former first-round pick has played well this season, starting all five games when healthy. And cornerback was arguably the biggest need for the Saints (5-1).

The Giants, meanwhile, decided to give a clean slate to Apple after his tumultuous sophomore season, which ended with him being suspended for arguing with a coach and included teammate Landon Collins calling him a "cancer."

"I don't know anything about the Giants and the internal workings of that organization now," Saints coach Sean Payton said Wednesday. "... But I do know a lot about ours, and we look forward to having [Apple]. ... We felt good about the information, we like the skill set and we're excited to work with him."

Apple, still just 23 years old, had appeared to mend those fences throughout this season. Apparently, however, the Giants were ready to move on when they had the opportunity to get something in return.

"When I saw it happen, I was like, 'Why?'" Collins told the Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York on Tuesday. "... We don't know honestly [why Apple was traded]. The locker room's been great. The guys have been great. The attitudes have been great. We all have been positive. We were shocked, literally. Defensively, we are shocked by this."

The Saints had also inquired about Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, according to both ESPN's Adam Schefter and Peterson's cousin, Bryant McFadden. But Peterson would have been much more expensive, and the Cardinals insisted he wasn't available in the first place.

The Saints had already traded their 2019 first-round draft pick (to move up for defensive end Marcus Davenport in this year's draft) and their 2019 third-round pick (to acquire backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater).

"We'll find a way to get a draft pick or two back. That's easy to do," Payton said. "Obviously we value the draft picks (but) feel like this was an opportunity to make our team better."

Apple, who was selected in the first round of the 2016 draft out of Ohio State, has 23 tackles this season with one forced fumble. He missed two games earlier this season with a groin injury.

After the 2017 season, Apple admitted to being "embarrassed" for his conduct and said "nobody wants to go out the way I went out." He met with general manager Dave Gettleman and Shurmur and was given assurance there would be a clean slate in 2018.

Annie Apple, Eli's mother, on Tuesday thanked the Giants on Twitter for giving "a little football nerd opportunity to live his dream."

Trading for Apple is the most "win-now" move of those made of late by the Saints. Apple does remain on his rookie contract through 2019, with a team option for 2020.

The Saints have played better on defense since some early struggles this season, but they still rank 28th in passing yards allowed per game (293.7). They have allowed eight passing plays of 42-plus yards, including a pass interference call, which is tied for the most in the NFL.

They also lost veteran nickel cornerback Patrick Robinson to injured reserve last month.

Payton said Apple arrived Tuesday night and will be part of the plan this week as they practice for Sunday's game at Minnesota, but his role won't be decided until the coach sees "how quickly he transitions."

Apple could potentially replace third-year pro Ken Crawley as the Saints' No. 2 starter at cornerback -- where Apple would line up opposite his former Ohio State teammate Marshon Lattimore, who was the Saints' first-round pick in 2017.

The Saints now have seven former Ohio State players on their active roster, injured reserve or practice squad -- which could help provide a good atmosphere for Apple to continue his turnaround.

To make room for Apple, the Saints placed veteran backup defensive tackle Jay Bromley on injured reserve with an unspecified injury suffered this past Sunday at Baltimore.

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Giants heading into rebuild mode amid Apple trade

ESPN Giants reporter Jordan Raanan discusses how the trade of Eli Apple to the Saints puts New York into rebuild mode.

The Giants (1-6) lost their fourth straight game Monday night and remain tied with the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals for the worst record in the NFL.

Shurmur said B.W. Webb will "be in the mix" to replace Apple as the starter on the outside.

"Trades happen, and we feel like maybe the answer is on our roster," Shurmur said. "And we're going to let the guys that are here compete, and do what they can do to help us win a football game.

"... Locker rooms have a way of moving past all this. Locker rooms have a way getting themselves right, and putting the next player in there, and you go out and play."

Apple played well as a rookie, starting 12 games, including the playoffs, with an interception, a forced fumble and eight pass defenses. Then he struggled last year, starting just seven games with no interceptions and eight pass defenses. This year he has no interceptions, five pass defenses and a forced fumble.

The Giants have unloaded first-round picks from 2015 and 2016 in recent weeks. In addition to trading Apple, they also waived offensive tackle Ereck Flowers.

"We're not throwing in the towel," Shurmur said. "This will give an opportunity for some young players and newer players to have an opportunity to play."

ESPN's Jordan Raanan contributed to this report.