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Fox Team Report 2/21

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Team Report Posted: 6 hours ago CAP STATUS: Counting Darren Howard's $7.8 million cap hit as the franchise free agent, the Saints should be about $4 million under the cap. They can easily free up $3 million to $6 million ...

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Old 02-21-2005, 06:55 AM   #1
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Fox Team Report 2/21

Team Report

Posted: 6 hours ago

CAP STATUS: Counting Darren Howard's $7.8 million cap hit as the franchise free agent, the Saints should be about $4 million under the cap. They can easily free up $3 million to $6 million more by releasing WR Jerome Pathon and/or re-working Joe Horn's deal.

MOVING ON: Right tackle Victor Riley probably won't be re-signed. He wore out his welcome last season by leading the team in pre-snap penalties and engaging in a fight with a teammate for the second consecutive season. He also battled a continuing weight problem. The Saints have tried to rid themselves of high-maintenance players in recent years, and Riley tops the list. Don't expect him back. . . .


The Saints want to re-sign cornerback Jason Craft, but he could draw some interest on the open market. He's best suited as a third corner in nickel situations, but he played well enough late last season to merit a chance to start. If a team gives him starter money he's likely gone. That would force the Saints to bring in another corner, either through free agency or, more likely, the draft. Depth behind starters Fakhir Brown and Mike McKenzie is questionable. Ashley Ambrose is 34 and coming off a knee injury. Fred Thomas had a terrible 2005 season and can't be counted on to return to his prior form. . . .


Defensive lineman Tony Bryant is another valuable role player the Saints want back but might lose. Bryant is capable of playing both end and tackle and gave the Saints valuable minutes down the stretch in their four-end alignment on passing downs. He's not much of a pass rusher, but at 6-6 he disrupts interior passing lanes. He's no better than the third or fourth end in New Orleans, so he might opt for more playing time elsewhere. . . .


Bryant's re-signing becomes more important if the Saints elect to trade franchise free agent Darren Howard. If they keep him, they'd have more than $10.4 million in salary cap money devoted to defensive ends. Charles Grant and Will Smith, a pair of former first-round draft picks, will count $1.3 million each against the cap. However, they might be willing to trade him for the right offer of a high draft pick or player. Smith and Grant are quality players, but there's little depth behind the pair if Bryant signs elsewhere. Veteran lineman Willie Whitehead can play end but is best suited to play inside at this stage of his career. The odds of moving Howard are 50-50. The Saints want adequate compensation for a pass rusher of his caliber in his prime. . . .


Wide receiver Jerome Pathon could be released to clear cap room and make way for talented young receiver Devery Henderson. The move would create $1.7 million in cap space and clear the logjam behind starters Joe Horn and Donte Stallworth. Henderson has the speed to separate deep, but his hands are a question mark. . . .


Veteran linebacker Sedrick Hodge also is expected to sign elsewhere. Hodge has been a disappointment since being drafted in the 2001 third round and has been surpassed on the depth chart by James Allen.


ACTION PLAN: The Saints don't have a lot of cap room available, so they'll probably employ the same strategy they used a year ago in free agency. They'll target a few selected veterans and try to lock them up early. Victor Riley's absence would create an immediate need at right tackle. Veteran reserve Spencer Folau isn't the same player he was before knee surgery last year and is no longer seen as a viable starting candidate. The Saints would be forced to look at the open market for help. Players with starting experience such as Jonas Jennings, Kareem McKenzie, Oliver Ross and Floyd Womack will be the first considered. The Saints plan to re-emphasize the running game under new offensive coordinator Mike Sheppard, so look for the Saints to find a mauler on the right side. Coach Jim Haslett wants tough players with nasty temperaments and won't settle for a finesse player at this spot. . . .


A free safety with ball skills is also high on the priority list. Jay Bellamy is an unrestricted free agent and, at 32, is on the downside of his career. Free safety Tebucky Jones has been a disappointment. The Saints want an upgrade here. The defense evolved into primarily a bump-and-run coverage team at the end of the season and needs a veteran ball hawk with range to patrol centerfield. Unfortunately, there are few of those players available. Baltimore restricted free agent Will Demps is an ideal candidate, but he'll be difficult to pry away from the Ravens. Pittsburgh's Chris Hope is also a possibility. He played for new defensive backs coach Willy Robinson. . . .


If the Saints can land a free safety and right tackle, they'll consider free agency a success. It would allow them to be flexible in the April draft, where they have the No. 16 pick in the first round. At that spot, they could afford to take the best player available, likely a defensive player, either a linebacker or cornerback. . . .


The Saints would like to re-sign strong safety Jay Bellamy, special teams ace Steve Gleason, reserve cornerback Jason Craft, reserve defensive lineman Tony Bryant. Although they want each of them, none of the group is considered irreplaceable.

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Old 02-21-2005, 07:10 AM   #2
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Fox Team Report 2/21

one of the better summaries i have seen. moving howard and opening up cap space should be the top priority imo. then, an impact player rather than a role player in weaker areas could be signed
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Old 02-21-2005, 10:31 AM   #3
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Fox Team Report 2/21

MOVING ON: Right tackle Victor Riley probably won\'t be re-signed. He wore out his welcome last season by leading the team in pre-snap penalties and engaging in a fight with a teammate for the second consecutive season. He also battled a continuing weight problem. The Saints have tried to rid themselves of high-maintenance players in recent years, and Riley tops the list. Don\'t expect him back. .
I\'ve watched our offensive line, with Roaf and Turley, go from a dominating unit to a weakness in a matter of a couple of years.

Getting rid of Riley is a step in the right direction, IMO. Not only is his blocking less than adequete, he commits way too many penalties, putting our offense is bad down a distance situations, he also seems to have attitude problems. What\'s up with him starting fights with his teammates? Not to mention his weight problem.

Haslett seems content on keeping Wayne Gandy. Gandy had his own problems this past year. Mainly with some of the better \"speed\" rushers. Gandy was injured some this year. Maybe that caused some of his problems? Hopefully Gandy can put together a solid season for us this year!

The move of Le Charles Bentley presented some problems early on. He had problems snapping the ball in the shotgun formation. And he didn\'t seem as dominant at center as he was at guard. Couple that with the fact that his replacement at guard didn\'t perform as well as Bentley did at the same spot, and you can understand why our offensive line had so many problems.

With a year of experience at center, Bentley should be better this year. At least Haslett is aware that changes need to be made and I like the fact that he hired another offensive line coach.

[Edited on 21/2/2005 by GumboBC]
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Old 02-21-2005, 10:49 AM   #4
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Fox Team Report 2/21

\"If the Saints can land a free safety and right tackle, they\'ll consider free agency a success. It would allow them to be flexible in the April draft, where they have the No. 16 pick in the first round. At that spot, they could afford to take the best player available, likely a defensive player, either a linebacker or cornerback. . . .\"

Geez I feel the same way... safety position should be addressed internally and through free agency. Would so much rather draft a DT or CB in the first round. Which means... no Thomas Davis :P Trust me TD fans, he\'s no where close to being as good as Roy Williams, Ed Reed, or Shaun Taylor.

Aww is this the same Gumbo who was not for the Bentley move to center?! I\'m glad to see your views gradually changing. He will be a Probowler this year don\'t you worry. A lot of you people must have not really pay attention to the way Holland and Jacox play, because they are pretty nasty. Just a little consistency from Bentley at his OLD position and play from the tackle spots, we can have an outstanding line again. Our guards are fine.

Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.

All little common sense goes a long way.
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Old 02-21-2005, 11:07 AM   #5
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he defense evolved into primarily a bump-and-run coverage team at the end of the season and needs a veteran ball hawk with range to patrol centerfield.
Like, gee, I dunno... Sammy Knight? LOL.
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Old 02-21-2005, 11:15 AM   #6
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Fox Team Report 2/21

Aww is this the same Gumbo who was not for the Bentley move to center?!
No, actually I was the biggest supporter for getting rid of Fotenot and moving Bentley to center. I\'ve been complaining about the pass blocking of the offensive line for TWO years.

In hindsight, I wish Fontenot would have stayed at center and Bentley at guard. But, in the long run, moving Bentley to center was a wise move, IMO.
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Old 02-21-2005, 11:17 AM   #7
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I\'m not too worried about the middle of the o-line. The tackles are the main problem. Obviously, we need to pick one up, but I\'d like to try a replacement for Gandy at LT rather than bringing in a new RT.

I said before training camp that Gandy was going to be a liability to us in \'04. This was because I saw him way too many times in \'03 get away with holding - especially on the speed rushers. Thus, I can\'t say that there is any reason to believe that an injury to Gandy was any reason why his performance was down. The refs started calling him for it...just like I had predicted.

Haslet seems content to keep him at LT because he doesn\'t want to be seen as wrong on yet another FA. Though Gandy is an upgrade on Turley at LT, he is nothing to what we had in Roaf.

We need to pick up the best LT available. Move Gandy to RT and give him a paycut for his effort. If he don\'tl ike it, then he can leave too, and put Stichy at RT...he might as well start producing too.

Of course, they wont do any of this except get rid of Riley.
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Old 02-21-2005, 11:57 AM   #8
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Fox Team Report 2/21

he defense evolved into primarily a bump-and-run coverage team at the end of the season and needs a veteran ball hawk with range to patrol centerfield.
Like, gee, I dunno... Sammy Knight? LOL.
Ballhawk? YES
Range? Not even close.
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Old 02-21-2005, 05:29 PM   #9
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Fox Team Report 2/21

i would not be too quick to dismiss howard........
and the saints won\'t, unless they are offered alot........
he is one of the few who earns his money.....
a game player every game.........every game.........smitty
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