03-02-2005, 12:06 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
saints talking bout status quo
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€ÂIt didn't take long for Saints general manager Mickey Loomis to take care of one of his team's top off-season priorities last week.
Loomis got strong safety Jay Bellamy, a 12-year veteran who was to become an unrestricted free agent on March 2, to sign a three-year contract that will keep him off the open market and in the Saints' secondary.
Bellamy thought about testing the market, but decided that he wanted to remain with the Saints when coach Jim Haslett was officially brought back for a sixth season in 2005.
"Once Jay saw that it was going to be status quo with coach Haslett, he made it clear to me that he wanted to get a deal done," said Brian Mackler, Bellamy's agent.
"Jay has been with Mickey and (director of player personnel) Rick (Mueller) for his whole career in Seattle and New Orleans," Mackler said. "They value him, and he's comfortable with them. Plus, he enjoys playing for coach Haslett. It was an easy decision."
Bellamy has been with the Saints since 2001, when he signed a deal with then-GM Randy Mueller. He played free safety for two years before moving to his more natural position of strong safety when Mel Mitchell was injured and lost for the 2003 season in the exhibition finale.
One of the team's most consistent performers the last two years, Bellamy is known for his aggressive play, savvy and durability. Last season, he posted a career-high 116 tackles, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Bellamy led the team with 115 tackles in 2003, when he also had three interceptions and 12 passes defensed. He has started all 64 games since signing with the Saints as an unrestricted free agent from the Seattle Seahawks.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€ÂThe Saints are expected this week to offer tender contracts to their three restricted free agents.
They are strong side linebacker James Allen, middle linebacker Roger Knight and safety Mel Mitchell. Allen is the only starter among that group.
All three are expected to be tendered at the lower level, which would require a signing team to give the Saints a draft pick based on the round they were drafted if New Orleans declined to match the offer.
Allen was a third-round pick and Mitchell was a fifth-round selection in the 2002 draft. Knight was a free agent, so no compensation would be due the Saints.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€ÂClub officials are also expected to make tender offers to three exclusive rights free agents who can only re-sign with the Saints.
The ERFAs are wide receiver Talman Gardner, defensive tackle Howard Green and middle linebacker Terrence Melton.
Gardner and Melton were backups last season, but Green started 13 games after beating out 2003 first-round draft pick Johnathan Sullivan in training camp.
QUOTE TO NOTE: " We have a good mix of youth and experience on defense and Jay brings a veteran presence to the secondary, not to mention his productivity and consistency. He's been one of our best defenders since we signed him, and we considered re-signing him a priority entering the off-season." ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Â Coach Jim Haslett on the re-signing of strong safety Jay Bellamy to a three-year contract.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
1. Linebacker. The Saints wanted to fill this need last April, but Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams were gone when they picked. They got Courtney Watson in the second round, but they definitely need to surround him with some impact players because Derrick Rodgers and Sedrick Hodge don't fit that bill.
2. Safety. Strong safety Jay Bellamy was re-signed to a three-year contract, but the Saints can still get better at free safety. Tebucky Jones, who received a big contract after being obtained in a 2003 trade with the Patriots, has been a disappointment ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Â mainly because he hasn't made a lot of plays.
3. Defensive tackle. Johnathan Sullivan, the sixth pick of the 2003 draft, could not get on the field in 2004 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Â mainly because of weight and attitude issues. The Saints ranked near the bottom of the league in run defense all last season, so finding a run-stuffer to go with Brian Young could be a priority.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: DE Darren Howard.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DE Tony Bryant; CB Jason Craft; SS Steve Gleason; TE Lamont Hall; SLB Sedrick Hodge; RB Fred McAfee; CB Monty Montgomery; RT Victor Riley; WLB Darrin Smith; DL Kenny Smith.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: SLB James Allen; MLB Roger Knight; SS Mel Mitchell.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: WR Talman Gardner; DT Howard Green; WLB Terrence Melton.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: S Jay Bellamy; LS Kevin Houser.
THis really worries me:
] All three are expected to be tendered at the lower level, which would require a signing team to give the Saints a draft pick based on the round they were drafted if New Orleans declined to match the offer.[/
not that anyone will try to grab them-but that could have been more draft picks.