— USA Today Sports Image

It all seemed so clear.

No team had spent more time in Louisville this past year, sources told us, than the New Orleans Saints. The Saints had Lamar Jackson in for a recent cozy dinner. There were warm, convivial vibes on both sides, we were told.

It felt like a match made in heaven.

Jackson in New Orleans. Watching Drew Brees. Learning from Sean Payton. A year, maybe two or three, for them to figure out how best to unleash this talent. Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas there, too. Wow.

And when the Saints moved up from 27 to 14 — and gave up next year’s first-rounder to do so? It was a fait accompli.

Or not.

It was Marcus Davenport. A pass rusher who was teeing off on North Texas and such last year. One who clearly needs seasoning and is far from instant coffee, not that New Orleans condones such things anyway.

But to say this is a stunner is understating in the biggest way.

Jackson waits. Davenport — the kid no NFL people were thinking much about even at the start of the 2016 season — is in.

This is a franchise-altering move. The Saints will wait to find Brees’ understudy. And they’ll have to wait for Davenport to reach max potential. He’s good, no doubt about it, and if you send him at Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston in a third-down role this year, well … it starts making more sense.

The Saints clearly felt that defense was the biggest need, now and later, and Jackson just wasn’t worth that high a cost to pay. Stunning to say the least.