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Excellent Answers to Saints Offseason Questions

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Close New Orleans Saints chat (03/03/2010) 11:53 Kevin Spain, T-P: Welcome to the Saints chat everybody. Mike will be with you around noon. Go ahead and start sending in your questions. Thanks. Wednesday March 3, 2010 11:53 Kevin Spain, T-P ...

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Old 03-03-2010, 03:44 PM   #1
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Excellent Answers to Saints Offseason Questions

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New Orleans Saints chat (03/03/2010)
11:53 Kevin Spain, T-P: Welcome to the Saints chat everybody. Mike will be with you around noon.
Go ahead and start sending in your questions.
Thanks.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 11:53 Kevin Spain, T-P
12:01 [Comment From sylviasylvia: ]
What is the latest news on Darren Sharper?

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:01 sylvia
12:05 Mike Triplett, T-P: Hi Sylvia, It really looks like the Saints are going to let Sharper test the free agent market, which begins on Friday, and risk losing him to another team if he finds a bidder willing to pay more.

Sharper, too, appears willing to go out and shop his services. ... But honestly I think both sides are just trying to improve their negotiating positions. I think Sharper wants to stay and the Saints want to keep him, they just need to agree on the right price tag.

There's a chance that some team might be willing to overpay for Sharper to jumpstart their defense just like he did in New Orleans. Denver paid out a pretty hefty contract to an aging safety in Brian Dawkins last year. So it's definitely a risk for the Saints to let him explore other options. ... But clearly it's a risk the Saints are willing to take.

Mickey Loomis explained to me last week that the Saints are going to make the same critical, honest decisions about player value that they always have and they won't let the "euphoria" of winning a Super Bowl cloud their judgment.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:05 Mike Triplett, T-P
12:06 [Comment From bradcradeurbradcradeur: ]
just say that sharper doesnt come back, you think vaughn would replace his role or might the saints look at the draft or f.a.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:06 bradcradeur
12:09 Mike Triplett, T-P: Hey Brad, I really don't know what to expect out of Chip Vaughn. He showed some early potential after the Saints drafted him in the fourth round last year, but he got hurt in camp and missed the entire season. So basically he's a redshirt rookie now. ... He would definitely be in the mix, but not an immediate fill-in for Sharper.

Usama Young might be ready to make that leap up into the starting lineup in his second year at the FS position, though that would be a drop-off the Saints would have to live with.

And there's always CB Malcolm Jenkins, who could be moved to FS if the Saints decide he'd be a better fit there, or they have a greater need there. But I really think the Saints' plan for now is to keep Jenkins at corner, where he should be a real good fit as the nickel corner in his second NFL season.

If they lose Sharper, they would be able to go out in free agency and sign another UFA to replace him, but that player could come from any position. ... They can also sign street free agents who have been released by other teams. So they could find a warm body -- just not someone of the same caliber.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:09 Mike Triplett, T-P
12:10 [Comment From GregGreg: ]
Who are some of the players you think may get plucked from the Saints

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:10 Greg
12:13 Mike Triplett, T-P: Honestly, Greg, I'd be surprised to see anyone get "plucked" unless the Saints choose to work out a trade or let someone go. ... Obviously we just talked about Sharper as one of those guys, but if the Saints decide to pay him, they can certainly afford to keep him.

As for the restricted free agents, traditionally those guys hardly ever switch teams. You may remember the infamous Jason David signing in New Orleans when he was an RFA with the Colts, but clearly the Colts were happy to let him go and receive a fourth-round draft pick in return.

The rules of free agency have changed this year, with fewer unrestricted free agents available. So there could be an increased interest in RFAs. And it's possible some teams might make a run at some of the Saints' guys like RB Pierre Thomas or OT Jermon Bushrod or WR Lance Moore (all tendered at 2nd-round compensation levels). ... But if that happens, the Saints could always choose to match the offer they might sign with another team.

The two guys who seem to be the most likely candidates for the Saints to shop around as trade bait are OT Jammal Brown and WR Lance Moore, because of their depth at those spots. But I'm not sure if other teams are eager to give up a lucrative contract extension and draft picks for players. ... More than ever, draft picks are a coveted commodity.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:13 Mike Triplett, T-P
12:14 [Comment From funnyHatfunnyHat: ]
Any news on Charles Grant's status? If we release him, are we definitely targeting DE in the 1st round?

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:14 funnyHat
12:16 Mike Triplett, T-P: Hey funnyHat, I think you kind of answered your own question there. ... From what I've gathered, the Saints are in no hurry to release Charles Grant. Now, there's no way that they'll keep him under his current contract, so they'll have to rework a deal to keep him in New Orleans. ... But for the time being, they don't have a replacement already lined up. So they might want to see how free agency and the draft play out before they decide how badly they want to keep Grant or how expendable he is.

The Saints have done an excellent job over the years of not letting need dictate their draft choices. Especially at No. 32 in the first round, they don't want to be cornered into taking a specific position.

But, yes, I would rank DE and a pass-rushing OLB as the top priority for the team at some point early in the draft. Those are spots where they must get younger and more dynamic.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:16 Mike Triplett, T-P
12:17 [Comment From hermanherman: ]
can they package a trade with a lineman and charles grant

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:17 herman
12:18 Mike Triplett, T-P: I had to post this question, Herman, because I see these kind of suggestions all the time. ... No one is going to trade for Charles Grant with his hefty contract. If you think the Saints want to get rid of him so badly, why do you think other teams would want him?

The choices with Grant are to release him or restructure his deal. ... If he hits the open market, then a team might try to sign him to a much more affordable contract.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:18 Mike Triplett, T-P
12:18 [Comment From dannydanny: ]
do you think the saints will let bell go,to sign L.T.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:18 danny
12:21 Mike Triplett, T-P: Hey Danny, I really don't think so. ... Drew Brees' friendship with Tomlinson would make this an attractive destination for L.T., but that doesn't mean he's willing to sign for the veteran minimum and become a role player. ... And, frankly, L.T. wouldn't even fit the Mike Bell role on the Saints. If anything, he would fit in the mold of Pierre Thomas or Reggie Bush, so there's just not a need or a fit there that makes much sense.

Now, if there's an injury or two and L.T. is still looking for work late in the summer, it's a possibility. But I just don't see that happening.

Plus, the Saints did just tender an offer to Bell on Monday, so he's still in their plans, even though he's going to have to try and fend off Lynell Hamilton, a hammer who was pushing him for playing time late in the year.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:21 Mike Triplett, T-P
12:23 [Comment From A.L.A.L.: ]
Waht is the most likely senario for acquiring a younger and faster outside linebacker?

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:23 A.L.
12:26 Mike Triplett, T-P: It's gotta be the draft, A.L. ... Linebackers are kind of like running backs in this league. They're past their prime once they turn 30, so you've got to get them while they're young, and teams aren't going to let the good ones get away.

The Saints have come close to using high picks on young linebackers in the recent past -- Thomas Davis was their second choice behind Jammal Brown in 2005, AJ Hawk was their second choice behind Reggie Bush in '06 and Brian Cushing was their second choice behind Malcolm Jenkins last year. ... The circumstances have just led them in other directions.

Fujita and Shanle have been nice veteran fill-ins for the last four years. But especially now with Gregg Williams running that defense, they could really use a change-of-pace guy who could rush the passer on third downs, etc.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:26 Mike Triplett, T-P
12:26 [Comment From SeanSean: ]
What danger is there that we might lose PT? I think there are alot of teams that might think he is worth a 2nd round draft pick.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:26 Sean
12:29 Mike Triplett, T-P: Yeah, but keep in mind that it's more than just a second-round pick. First, a team needs to make a lucrative long-term contract offer that Thomas would be willing to sign to leave New Orleans. So they'd be paying top-dollar for him AND giving up the second-round pick. That's a hefty price tag, even for a promising young tailback like Thomas. ... It's not like teams can just send the Saints a second-round pick and get Thomas at his one-year restricted tender salary.

Plus, if some team does make an offer to Thomas and he signs it, the Saints could always choose to match the offer. So they're not really at serious risk of losing him. ... And worst-case scenario, they wind up with a second-round pick, which they could use on a pretty decent tailback to replace him.

That helps explain why not a lot of RFAs switch teams very often.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:29 Mike Triplett, T-P
12:29 [Comment From TboneforeverTboneforever: ]
What are the chances of the Saints drafting a QB with their first or second pick?

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:29 Tboneforever
12:32 Mike Triplett, T-P: In the first round, I'd say less than zero. ... I suppose it wouldn't be outlandish with the final pick of Round 2. And I wouldn't be surprised at all to see them pluck a developmental project in Rounds 3 or 4 or 5. But I'd really be surprised to see them invest the pick and the money in a guy that they hope never sees the field in the next 5 years.

They do need to develop a reliable backup behind Brees, and I don't know if Chase Daniel is that guy. ... But more importantly, they want to build around Brees right now while their window of opportunity is still wide open.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:32 Mike Triplett, T-P
12:32 [Comment From greg from new orleansgreg from new orleans: ]
What do you think about Sean Weatherspoon? and do you think he will fall to the Saints at #32?

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:32 greg from new orleans
12:32 [Comment From JonathanJonathan: ]
How high does the Saints have DE Jerry Hughes from TCU on their draft board? Is he on their board?

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:32 Jonathan
12:32 [Comment From CraigCraig: ]
Who did the Saints interview at the combine? Any talk of who impressed them...

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:32 Craig
12:32 [Comment From JuiceJuice: ]
Who were a few players at the Combine that you think would fit in nicely with the Saints? And has there been any whispers of who Sean and the coaching staff have interviewed?

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:32 Juice
12:37 Mike Triplett, T-P: Hey everyone, I don't want to ignore all these draft-related questions because I know the combine has put this at the front of everyone's mind and draft talk is always exciting. ... But I've been focusing my reporting on free agency the last couple weeks (and before that the season was still going on!). And even if I tried to find out who the Saints were going to draft, they wouldn't tell me, anyway. They believe in keeping that stuff close to the vest and even practice some deception. I remember two years ago when they drafted Sedrick Ellis and Tracy Porter, they hadn't brought either guy in for a predraft visit.

Especially with the Saints having the No. 32 pick, it would be impossible to guess who they're narrowing in on. I don't think the team would even predict that at this point.

It was a lot easier last year when we were focusing in on the obvious choice, Malcolm Jenkins, beginning in January.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:37 Mike Triplett, T-P
12:38 [Comment From SDsaintSDsaint: ]
What do you think about drafting Mays as the first pick for the Saints, if he is still there? To me, he is a perfect fit in GW attacking, gambling style D, and could play safety or OLB.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:38 SDsaint
12:40 Mike Triplett, T-P: I will answer one of these Taylor Mays questions, though, because I remember studying up on him last year when the Saints needed a safety and it looked like he was going pro. ... I'm stunned that he's fallen so far. He seemed like the perfect fit for the Saints at No. 13 last year, then he stayed at USC and now he might not even stay in the first round? I've been hearing whispers that he was unimpressive at USC to a lot of teams and hasn't really shined at the combined this week.

I'm with you - he seemed like exactly what they needed a year ago. And I think if he still has that potential in him, then Greg Williams is they guy who can get it out of him. ... But like I said, I don't have a good feel for where he might be on the Saints' draft board right now.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:40 Mike Triplett, T-P
12:40 [Comment From ryanryan: ]
what is going to happen to reggie bush?

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:40 ryan
12:47 Mike Triplett, T-P: He'll be a Saint again this season. ... Even when I was in the minority, I've been insisting that would be the case all along.

Obviously Bush's production hasn't matched his salary, and if he was a free agent right now, no one would sign him to a two-year $20 million deal (his salary is scheduled to be $8 million this year and $12 million next year). ... Unfortunately, though, that's what it cost when the Saints drafted him No. 2 overall in 2006. You think the Raiders like paying JaMarcus Russell what they owe him? And countless other examples like that.

The problem is, the Saints can't really demand that Bush take a paycut, because he's not scared of winding up on the open market. He's still got enough potential and star power to attract enough teams that will pay him some decent money with a healthy signing bonus. ... So he wouldn't be afraid of calling the Saints' bluff if they threatened to cut him.

And that's exactly what it would be - a bluff. I'd be stunned if the Saints cut Bush outright and just let him go. Sean Payton thinks he is an essential part of his diverse offense, and he creates matchup headaches for opposing defenses. Heck, Payton kissed him on the sideline at the end of the playoff opener against Arizona.

As for trading him, yeah, maybe a team would offer a second-day pick. But they wouldn't pay too much for him because they don't like his exorbitant salary, either. And no team would value him more than the Saints do.

Most likely, the Saints might talk about a restructured deal that includes adding a couple years after 2011. But since this is an uncapped year, there's really no urgency to make his deal more "cap-friendly."

And that's a long way of saying simply what I said at the beginning. I'd be stunned if he's not a Saint next year.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:47 Mike Triplett, T-P
12:48 [Comment From LakeviewSaintsFanLakeviewSaintsFan: ]
Are you hearing any rumors of who the Saints will open up with next year? Steelers, Vikings, or rival game?

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:48 LakeviewSaintsFan
12:51 Mike Triplett, T-P: Haven't heard any rumors, LakeviewSaintsFan. But those are the candidates. ... The Saints will host the 2010 NFL kickoff game on Thursday night of Week 1, as the Super Bowl champs always do. ... Unfortunately they don't have a real attractive home schedule. The top contenders would be Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Atlanta and Carolina (the others are Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Seattle and St. Louis).

My guess is Pittsburgh. The past two Super Bowl champs, two nationally-recognized teams. Really, it seems like a no-brainer to me unless NBC or ESPN wants that game in prime time later in the year and convinces the league to hold off on it. ... Minnesota would be the next best bet, but who knows if Favre will be back?

The announcement should come later this month during the annual league meetings in Orlando.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:51 Mike Triplett, T-P
12:51 [Comment From joshjosh: ]
How close are the Saints and Evans to reaching a long-term deal?

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:51 josh
12:53 Mike Triplett, T-P: I think it will happen this offseason at some point because both sides clearly want to get it done. But I don't think there's a real sense of urgency since Evans is in no danger of going anywhere (I'd be stunned if someone was willing to give up a 1st and a 3rd, plus sign him to a deal so lucrative that the Saints wouldn't match it).

It could wind up being one of those deals that the Saints announce on the eve of training camp, like Marques Colston, Deuce McAllister, Joe Horn and Mike McKenzie in years past. ... Or it could be done sooner since the Saints' free agency workload isn't so hectic this year. ... One way or another, I expect it to get done eventually.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:53 Mike Triplett, T-P
12:53 [Comment From PaulPaul: ]
What are the chances of the Saint trading Jammal Brown for a first round pick to a team like Green Bay or Arizona who have needs at LT? The Saints had to be happy with the top O-linemen performing well at the combine since it is likely four could go in the top 15 and leave teams picking in the 20s without any viable candidate to choose from; the result could be a first for Brown.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:53 Paul
12:55 Mike Triplett, T-P: I think the Saints would probably do it, Paul, but I don't think another team would pay that much for Brown with the uncertainty about his health. He's had a history of knee issues, plus he missed all of last year after hip surgery and he's got some wear and tear on his body.

I wouldn't rule it out, because left tackle is such an important position, and Brown's been one of the best in the league when healthy. But I'm not sure what his value would be on the open market right now.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:55 Mike Triplett, T-P
12:55 [Comment From terryterry: ]
When will the RFAs begin to sign their deals? Also, if they lose someone, is there any UFAs who could be replaced at a good price?

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:55 terry
12:59 Mike Triplett, T-P: I know the deadline for restricted free agents to sign an offer sheet with another team is April 15 (then the Saints would have until April 21 to match the offer). ... I'm not sure what the deadline is for RFAs to sign their tender, but I'm guessing they would do it by then if they don't get a deal from another team.

Also, if the Saints lose an RFA, I don't think they can sign a UFA to replace him.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 12:59 Mike Triplett, T-P
1:00 [Comment From chuckchuck: ]
You looked pretty beat in your Vid Blog from Indy. We're the combines grueling or were you up late showing off the colors in Insy?

Wednesday March 3, 2010 1:00 chuck
1:01 Mike Triplett, T-P: None of the above, Chuck. ... I just don't have the sophisticated makeup departments and video technology to make me look as beautiful as the TV guys.

I did talk to a few of the Saints' coaches and staff about being in Indy, by the way, and how depressing it would have been if they had lost the Super Bowl and had to see all the championship gear everywhere. ... I think they restrained themselves from gloating too much, though.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 1:01 Mike Triplett, T-P
1:02 [Comment From John M, Dickinson TXJohn M, Dickinson TX: ]
What are the chances we will see Mark Brunell as the backup QB for Saints in 2010?

Wednesday March 3, 2010 1:02 John M, Dickinson TX
1:03 Mike Triplett, T-P: I think pretty good, John. At least I'd expect him to be the veteran in camp. ... It's possible they could go in a different direction or committ to getting younger. But since they can't sign any UFAs, I'm not sure who is out there that would be considered an "upgrade."

Like we talked about earlier, I think this would be a good year to identify a developmental project later in the draft and try to turn him into a reliable backup. ... But I also know the Saints do like the potential of Chase Daniel. So maybe they don't feel an urgency there.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 1:03 Mike Triplett, T-P
1:04 [Comment From bdawg1bdawg1: ]
Do you see McNabb fitting in as our 2nd QB, if we cut ties with Brunell?

Wednesday March 3, 2010 1:04 bdawg1
1:04 Mike Triplett, T-P: No way. ... He'd be an upgrade, but he'd also be an upgrade for about 20 teams as a starting quarterback. Nice thought, though.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 1:04 Mike Triplett, T-P
1:04 [Comment From chadchad: ]
can you talk about the possibility of drafting tebow. i hear strong arguments for and against it.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 1:04 chad
1:06 Mike Triplett, T-P: I doubt it for the same reason that Michael Vick wasn't a good fit, here. Why add a wildcat element to the offense where you're taking the ball out of Drew Brees' hands. ... But then again, the Saints do have the league's most creative offensive mind, and if he sees potential as a tight end/H-back/misdirection player, I'd never say never.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 1:06 Mike Triplett, T-P
1:06 [Comment From SootrodamusSootrodamus: ]
You said a deal to Evans so lucrative the Saints wouldn't match it, but you are overlooking poison pill contracts like the Vikings gave to Steve Hutchinson. Is the 1 and 3 tender really worth the risk of a few extra dollars???

Wednesday March 3, 2010 1:06 Sootrodamus
1:08 Mike Triplett, T-P: That's a good point, and I've been asking around about the "poison pill" deals. Technically, I think they're legal but I don't think teams like to do it. Ever since that year with the Vikings and Seahawks going back and forth with the Hutchinson and Nate Burleson deals, I haven't heard much about them creeping up. I think it's kind of an unwritten rule or gentleman's agreement that teams don't use them often.

Regardless, as I explained with Pierre Thomas, that's an awful lot to give up both a top-dollar deal and high draft picks for any player. So I don't expect Evans to be courted by anybody. ... Remember, he was tendered at the 1st- and 3rd level last year, too, and he didn't even take a visit.

Wednesday March 3, 2010 1:08 Mike Triplett, T-P
1:09 Mike Triplett, T-P: Alright folks, lots of good questions, sorry I couldn't get to all of them. ... Stay glued to nola.com throughout the opening weekend of free agency, even though it shouldn't be as frantic as usual. And we'll be back with a chat on Monday (most likely) to recap what happened.
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