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New Orleans Saints in the near future to fit pieces in the puzzle

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; It looks like we're going to have football this fall after all. New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis will have to be in overdrive when the NFL lockout is over. A new collective bargaining agreement is in the works, ...

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Old 06-23-2011, 11:25 AM   #1
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It looks like we're going to have football this fall after all.

New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis will have to be in overdrive when the NFL lockout is over.
A new collective bargaining agreement is in the works, and by all accounts, a deal could be finalized by the middle of next month. That'll leave teams a couple of weeks to sort through free agency before the start of training camp.
No matter how you slice it, July is going to be one of the most hectic months in NFL history, an unprecedented whirlwind of free-agent activity.
Forget the hot stove. This will be the microwave of NFL free agent seasons.
Free agent terms have yet to be disclosed, but it looks like veterans with four or more accrued seasons will become unrestricted free agents. That means close to 500 veteran free agents will soon be available on the open market.
The New Orleans Saints have 26 such players on their roster, with eight of them full- or part-time starters.
I hope Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis and contract negotiator Khai Harley are rested because their work schedules are going to go from zero to 80 almost overnight.
In preparation for the anticipated frenzy next month, it's time to re-evaluate the Saints' post-draft roster. Here's how I believe the Saints will and should stack their half-deck of free agents, keeping in mind that the mother of all contracts -- quarterback Drew Brees -- looms in the next 12 months:
Priority 1
These are the players the club must re-sign because of their talent or a lack of depth at their position on the roster.
Losing any one of them would be a major blow. Consequently, they have leverage. Their services will be the most difficult to retain, in part because they'll likely demand more interest and dollars in the open market.
Jermon Bushrod: He's not a superstar, but he plays the second-most important position on the club's high-powered offense (left tackle).
Moreover, there's no viable replacement on the roster.
Roman Harper: Forget the debacle in Seattle.
Harper is a core veteran who is coming off his best season as a pro. The strong safety is a critical part of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' weekly game plan.
Lance Moore: Arguably the team's second-best receiver, he brings a unique skill set to the offense.
Brees won't be happy if he gets away.
Priority 2
These players are key parts of the Saints' plan.
They're important but not essential personnel. Individually, their departures would hurt but wouldn't necessarily be devastating.
David Thomas: Another Brees favorite, he's the No. 2 tight end, which, in Coach Sean Payton's system, is essentially a starter.
He's a versatile, underrated talent whose mentorship to second-year pro Jimmy Graham carries weight.
Jon Goodwin: The Saints won't break the bank for their incumbent center.
He's a solid starter, but the club has his heir apparent on the roster in Matt Tennant.
Remi Ayodele: The signing of Shaun Rogers dramatically reduced Ayodele's role.
He's now the third defensive tackle and looking at backup money.
Darren Sharper: No longer a starter but a quality nickel safety, and he brings a lot of intangibles to the table.
But he'll turn 36 in November, so the price will have to be right for Sharper to return.
Anthony Hargrove: Only Will Smith and Sedrick Ellis have more sacks than Hargrove the past two seasons.
Quality, productive role players are hard to find, but the defensive end/tackle might find a better offer elsewhere.
Scott Shanle: The versatile veteran linebacker is a staff favorite but could be expendable with the additions of Martez Wilson and Nate Bussey in the draft and the anticipated returns of Jonathan Casillas and Stanley Arnoux.
Zach Strief: The towering veteran married a local girl and is enmeshed in the community, so his first option is to re-sign.
He plays a key role as the primary backup at both offensive tackle spots.
Heath Evans: He continues to play a David Patten-like role as a leader and mentor to the team's young group of running backs.
Still, his on-field production has declined, and the club might not have the luxury of keeping him around.
Courtney Roby: He's not a big-ticket item, but as the team's best kickoff returner and gunner, he's a valuable and underrated commodity.
Priority 3
File this group under "wants" not "needs."
You would like to have these players around, but ultimately they're expendable. Most are looking at contracts for the league minimum salary and will have competition just to make the Saints' final roster.
Jeff Charleston: Like Hargrove, he might find more money and/or playing time elsewhere.
But the defensive end is the kind of player the staff wants back.
Tory Humphrey: A Payton favorite, his roster spot will likely come down to whether Payton keeps three or four tight ends.
His competition is Tyler Lorenzen.
Usama Young: His ability to play corner, safety and special teams gives him a potential leg-up in the deep defensive backfield competition.
It also could make him appealing to another team desperate for secondary help.
Jimmy Wilkerson: The Saints likely won't be able to sign both Wilkerson and Hargrove, since both play similar end/tackle roles.
Pierson Prioleau: Similar to Evans and Patten, he's essentially a coach on the field and in the locker room.
But his special teams contributions could help him stick around for another year.
Chris Reis: The club has multiple options in the secondary, so Reis likely will have to earn his roster spot on special teams.
Leigh Torrence: The drafting of Johnny Patrick likely means he'll battle veteran Randall Gay for the fifth corner spot.
Marvin Mitchell: The primary backup to middle linebacker Jon Vilma and a short-yardage specialist, he has seen his role expand in recent years but will face more competition this camp.
Kawika Mitchell: Injuries have taken a toll on the veteran linebacker.
He's probably best-suited for a backup role at this stage of his career.
Danny Clark: Could stick as a backup, but he faces stiff competition from the club's young group of linebackers.
Not priorities
Ladell Betts: Was strictly a stop-gap signee last season.
The backfield is way too crowded to consider bringing him back.
Julius Jones: See Betts.
DeShawn Wynn: See Betts, Jones.
Matt Giordano: No room in the crowded secondary.

New Orleans Saints in the near future to fit pieces in the puzzle | NOLA.com

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Old 06-23-2011, 11:45 AM   #2
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now thats a run down
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Old 06-23-2011, 04:05 PM   #3
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Great article. Thanks for sharing.

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(frantic melodious tapping of fingers on desk in anticipation of the gate being opened)
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Old 06-23-2011, 04:08 PM   #4
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Damn that sums it up right there.
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Old 06-24-2011, 02:32 AM   #5
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Very good summary. No mention of Bush. Hummmm
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Old 06-24-2011, 01:35 PM   #6
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Great article. One of the best summations I've read and I agree with almost everyting he had to say. Bushrod being a priority means we're most likely stuck with him as the staring LT for at least a couple of years. I'm not quite so happy about that.....in my opinion we really need an upgrade. The linebackers could really be fun to watch battle at TC. I'm looking forward to seeing Cassillas get an opportunity to earn a starting spot.
I guess we'll be stuck with Young for another contract. Dang it!
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