Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Saints Nation: Preseason Opponents Announced

While no one does, or should, care about preseason, these are the opponents the Saints will face, per

@ Patriots (date TBA)
vs. Texans (date TBA)
vs. Chargers (on 8/27) 
@ Titans (date TBA)

I do think it's interesting that all four teams happen to come from the AFC. And hey, if our boys have to go to Foxboro, at least it's in the summer.

Saints Nation: What to do at Offensive Tackle?

Good offensive tackles in the NFL are at a premium in the league because they are so hard to find. The Saints, however, have four very solid ones. Starting right tackle Jon Stinchcomb is fresh off his first Pro Bowl birth, left tackle Jammal Brown has been to Pro Bowls before, and both Zach Strief and Jermon Bushrod have proven to be very capable backups that would likely be ready to play in a full time starting role if given a chance. Going into last year we knew Strief, Brown and Stinchcomb were capable players, though to Stinchcomb's credit he turned in one of his better yearly performances in 2010. Bushrod, however, was the big surprise. Up to this point in the offseason last year, Bushrod had been nothing more than a promising player that underperformed and didn't live up to his potential. Then came an injury to Jammal Brown that would shelve him for the season, and Bushrod (not Strief) was surprisingly thrown into the fire as a starter at left tackle. Considering Bushrod was immediately placed into the most important position on the line for the most high powered offense in the league, he handled himself admirably. Ultimately, he ended up being the starting left tackle for a Super Bowl champion. Pretty impressive when you consider that most viewed him as a glaring hole on the offense and a serious liability as the season would progress. I want to mention, also, that while Zach Strief only saw limited action as the starting left tackle last season behind Bushrod, the Saints thought enough of him that they were constantly finding ways to get him on the field as an extra blocker.

So the big questions become: Can the Saints afford to keep all four of these players, and if not, which one do they let go?

As of now the Saints have Stinchcomb locked up longterm, and Bushrod, Strief and Brown have all been tendered to restricted free agent contracts that make it unlikely other teams will attempt to sign them away. Right now, if healthy, Jammal Brown still represents the team's best option at left tackle. It remains to be seen based on his injury history, though, if the Saints are willing to risk investing in Brown long term. It also remains to be seen if he's fully recovered enough from his serious hip surgery in 2009 to play at the level he's accustomed to. Brown is a premiere tackle when on his game, no doubt, but he's gone through patches of injury and poor play before. Bushrod did prove that he could fill in admirably for Brown last year, but his performances were up and down, and the Saints devised many blocking schemes targeted at helping Bushrod. Whether it was line shifts, double teams, chips from a back, or play action plays run away from the left side, the Saints often focused on relieving Bushrod of as much pressure as possible. While the offense still managed to have tons of success that way, it would be nice to put less pressure on the other players on the line and allow coach Payton to be more versatile in his play calling. Bushrod should only get better, but will he ever be good enough to give the Saints reason to invest in him long term? As far as Strief, it seems as though he's best suited for a spot at right tackle, and right now there's no way he's bumping Stinchcomb from the starting rotation.

Ultimately the Saints, while it was difficult, found ways to get three tackles involved in the gameplan last year. I don't think it's realistic that they'll be able to do that with four healthy tackles, and with the current value that Jammal Brown and Jermon Bushrod carry, I think they are the most likely to get shipped. Strief is too valuable as a backup and role player to the team, and he's not valuable enough on the open market, so I don't see him leaving. I think Bushrod, based on his performance last year, may actually be overvalued on the current open market. Brown is a little bit of an enigma, because while he's probably valued highly based on his accolades, he carries a high price tag and a big injury risk. I can't imagine the Saints will keep all four players, but I'm not certain of which player they would part with. It is possible that the Saints will keep the four tackles for one more year in an effort to get more answers as to who should be in their long term plans. Either way it's a good problem to have for the team. Too many good tackles is the opposite of what most NFL teams deal with, which is not enough.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Saints Nation: Jeff Charleston Re-Signs for a Year

Saints' defensive end Jeff Charleston, seen chasing Mark Sanchez in the picture on the left, has signed his restricted free agent tender and will be back with the Saints for another season. Charleston had a quiet year last year ending with 10 tackles and no sacks, after posting 3 sacks in 2008. Still, he's a solid backup and role player on special teams. Welcome back Jeff!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saints Nation: The New Overtime Rules Are a Loss for Everyone

I know I'm not the only one that thinks the new overtime rules are a complete farce.

Sean Payton let his feelings be known by putting it pretty simply: "I hate it".

Jonathan Vilma claims the new rules are a slight against his team.

The new rule is extremely confusing for the average football fan, and outright ridiculous for the educated football fan. Forget the fact that the new rules are moronic, the fact that they only apply to the postseason is even more infuriating. That's right, one sudden death period of 15 minutes still applies in the regular season, which means status quo and the absurd possibility that games can still end in a tie. Rest assured, though (sarcasm), once the regular season ends you'll get a whole new set of awful overtime rules. The NFL overtime went from bad to worse. It's sad when you consider that the NBA, NHL, and college football - all considered inferior to the NFL in terms of the entertainment value and product - all completely dwarf the NFL in overtime fairness and excitement. I would argue that sudden death was more exciting than what will now take place. The fact that rules change based on the importance of the game is the most absurd concept in sports of all time. I think it severely damages the league's integrity and it's a tremendous dishonor to the sport. The NFL should be embarrassed, and I know that several people with league ties are.

I'll say it again: getting past the idea that the rule is stupid for one second, they should at least keep the rules the same for regular season vs. postseason. For the sake of fan comprehension and consistency, I'd urge NFL officials to at least consider that. But it goes even deeper, because the rules need a wholesale change.

If you're not familiar with the rules, they are outlined HERE. In short, if you score a touchdown the game is over. If you score a field goal on the opening drive, the other team has a chance to either win with a touchdown, or tie with a field goal - at which point the game goes back to being sudden death. HOWEVER, and this is where it gets tricky, if a team gets stopped on their opening possession and the other team scores a field goal - then the game is over because each team had a shot. Another wrinkle: if a defensive team scores a safety on the opening drive, the game is over. So an opening drive safety can win the game, and an opening drive field goal cannot. Why? Because a safety would turn the ball over to the other team, giving each team a possession. Everybody still with me on this? Yeah, I didn't think so. Honestly, the NFL could have saved everyone a whole lot of time and confusion by just saying "first team to 6 in overtime wins". I realize that's a little different from what they've implemented, and games could theoretically last longer than the way they've designed it, but it's more simple and straight forward.

The bottom line is the new rules are a complete joke, and I'm ashamed for the league as a diehard fan. Why do they keep fighting the reality that college football overtime is so much better than any stupid idea they've come up with and just go ahead and adopt their rules? I've heard a lot of reasons why not: "NFL offenses are more prolific and it would be easier to score, making games longer" - fine, move the ball back from the 25 yard line to make it harder. "TV scheduling makes it difficult" - how can the NFL not dictate to the networks how it's going to be, they boost rating more than ANYTHING and I'm pretty sure college football style overtime would boost them. "Players don't want to risk injury by playing more" - then you're lobbying for no overtime at all, aren't you?

None of those reasons are enough to convince me that the current system, or the recent change, are a better alternative. Not by a long shot.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Saints Nation: Why The Saints Will Miss Mike Bell

Watch these three video clips below and tell me the Saints won't miss the player. I dare you.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Saints Nation: Saints Decline to Match Offer Sheet, Mike Bell officially an Eagle

Mike Bell's call of duty with the New Orleans Saints has officially come to an end, as the team decline to match the offer sheet the Philadelphia Eagles signed him to. Mike Bell is now officially a member of the Eagles, and because of the level the Saints tendered Bell at, they will receive no compensation. It's really sad to see Bell go because he was one of the really good guys on the team last year from a character perspective. Despite an extremely fast start in terms of performance last year, he flamed out as the season wore on, in large part due to injuries he was playing with. Ultimately, the emergence of Lynell Hamilton during the tail end of the season is likely what made the Saints feel that Bell was expendable.

Like Fujita, I think Bell's play on the field is replaceable, so while this is a loss, I don't think it's a monumental loss. Still, I will greatly miss the power, aggression and purpose Bell ran with every time he touched the ball. If he's healthy, the Eagles have gotten a good back at a great price. The Saints' current financial situation is as much to blame for Bell's departure as anything else, and that's really too bad.Good luck to you with the Eagles Mike, and thanks for playing such a big part of the Saints' title run!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Amit's Take: 2010 Offseason Needs

After basking in the glory of a Super Bowl championship, it is time to look ahead to what our beloved New Orleans Saints need to do in order to repeat.  The 2009 New Orleans Saints were flawed, perhaps more flawed than people are willing to admit.  Their defensive front 7 was very mediocre, especially in the latter half of the season, and failed to prevent long gains by opposing rushing attacks.  The Saints only garnered 35 sacks with one of the most blitz-happy defensive coordinators in the game.  Several problems with our front 7 in ’09:  Sedrick Ellis being out for several games, Charles Grant’s lazy and pathetic self, the lack of a nose tackle that could anchor the front line in order to allow Sedrick Ellis to make plays in the backfield, and a linebacking corps that is not very good at the blitz.
Guys like Scott Fujita and Scott Shanle, who are very solid leaders, are very intelligent players on the field, and rarely are they ever caught taking a bad angle; but they aren’t very good at getting after the quarterback, which is a key in Gregg Williams’ defense.  Also, now that Fujita is gone to the Cleveland Browns, there is a void left at the OLB position.  Finally, when the Saints jettisoned the lazy Charles Grant, who failed to register any effort in a very special season, they also left a void at left defensive end; the most primary need for this offseason.

  1. Defensive End-With Charles Grant gone, and the lack of a consistent pass rush from the front 4, the Saints are left with Bobby McCray, Jeff Charleston, and Paul Spicer as the primary backups.  McCray is known as a pass rush specialist but is very inconsistent against the run.  In the playoff game against Arizona, on the very first play, the Cardinals ran right in his direction and scored.  He also spent the majority of the past season hampered by back and hamstring injuries, preventing him from getting to the quarterback(until he turned it on against Kurt Warner and Brett Favre—lol).  Charleston is a solid backup who plays with relentless motor and effort, but doesn’t have the physical tools to be a starter in the NFL.  Paul Spicer is an aging veteran whose best days are behind him and probably will not be retained next season.  The Saints were reportedly interested in ex-Rams’ defensive ends Leonard Little and James Hall.  Both ends are on the downside of their careers and would probably be only situational pass rushers.  In my opinion, the Saints should pursue a defensive end in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft, and the guy I would really love the see in the black and gold is Brandon Graham. He has a high motor; and although he is slightly undersized, he is outstanding against the run.
  2. Outside Linebacker-With the loss of Scott Fujita in free agency, the Saints will need to find a man to replace him.  There are several options that the Saints already have: Jonathan Casillas and Jo Lonn Dunbar.  Both of these guys are very athletic and may be Fujita’s eventual replacement.  The most intriguing prospect, however, is last year’s fourth round draft pick: Stanley Arnoux.  The Demon Deacon ruptured his Achilles’ tendon on the first day of minicamp last offseason, ending his participation in the Super Bowl journey.  Although it would be unrealistic to expect a redshirt rookie to fill the shoes of Scott Fujita, I do believe that he has the potential to become a good starter for us.  If the Saints are not satisfied with the guys they have in the building, they can look at guys like TCU’s Daryl Washington or Georgia’s Rennie Curran as replacements in the second round.
  3. Nose Tackle-In 2008, the Saints drafted Sedrick Ellis in order to generate a consistent pass rush against opposing quarterbacks. The Saints have failed to address the need at nose tackle, however.  They need a solid nose tackle that can eat up some blockers so that Sedrick Ellis can make plays in the backfield.  It will also clear the path for linebackers to make plays in the run game and force the opposing team to become one dimensional.  The Saints pursued ex-Chargers nose tackle Jamal Williams and ex-Panthers nose tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu, but they were taken by the Broncos and Redskins, respectively.  As a result, the Saints need to address the defensive tackle position in the third round of the NFL draft, and give help guys like Sedrick Ellis and Jonathan Vilma reach their full potential.
  4. Corner/Safety-If Darren Sharper is brought back, this won’t be much of a need, but I do think that we need to groom an eventual successor to the ex Packer and Viking.  Many pundits project Malcolm Jenkins to become a Pro-Bowl safety within the next few years, and if that is the case, the Saints will need another corner for depth.
  5. Backup Quarterback-God forbid, but if Drew Brees gets injured during a game, I would not trust Mark Brunell or Chase Daniel to lead the team to any victories.  The Saints pursued Jake Delhomme, but eventually lost out on his services to the Cleveland Browns because they were giving him a chance for a starting spot.  They must pursue a veteran quarterback with a good deal of experience as an insurance policy for Drew.
  6. Runningback-It looks like Mike Bell will be in an Eagles’ uniform next year, so the Saints will need another back to play the 3rd/ 4th runningback spot.  If the Saints believe that Lynell Hamilton can handle the role, then they simply need to find a guy who can fill in if there happens to be an injury.  The Saints will miss Mike Bell’s physicality and desire to run guys over, as it gave their offense a very physical dimension.  Mike Bell was the one who swung the momentum in the Dolphins game in Week 7 this past season.

In conclusion, the Saints biggest needs are on their defensive front 7, and if they can find the right guys to fill the right spots, they have the potential to repeat and give a truly deserving fan-base another Super Bowl Championship.  TWO DAT!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Saints Nation: NFL Schedule to come out Tomorrow?

It sounds as though the 2010 NFL regular season schedule may be released tomorrow. Per ESPN analyst Adam Schefter's twitter account: "Thursday night opener, and other regular-season games, will not be announced until Tuesday."

As most of you know, the Thursday night opener always kicks off with the defending SuperBowl champion playing a home game. In this case, it means our beloved Saints. All signs point towards that matchup being against the Minnesota Vikings in the Superdome, but we won't know officially until tomorrow. Stay tuned for that announcement to be made as I'll give my thoughts on the schedule as soon as it's released.

Last year the wasn't released until April 14th, so we'll be getting this information a lot sooner. I predicted a 10-6 record based on the schedule we got last year, and we ended up 13-3. Hopefully we can count on 3 more wins than my prediction again this year!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saints Nation: The Longer Darren Sharper Stays Available, the Better for Saints

My apologies for the lack of Saints news/information in the last few days, but largely to blame for that is the Saints' complete lack of activity. They're not the only ones, as the first "wave" of free agency has passed and a lot of the available players out there are having to drop their asking price. Since Darren Sharper is still available and has yet to receive an offer he liked, I think he needs to be included in the players that will have to drop their asking price. This bodes well for the Saints, because they've made it clear that they want Sharper back if Sharper can agree to reasonable terms. I think the Saints were most at risk of losing Sharper early in free agency if someone threw a ridiculous amount of money at him and he decided he couldn't resist. Think of Scott Fujita and the offer he got from the Browns very early in the process. Since that's yet to happen, I can't really see a team breaking the bank this deep into the free agency period. It is a little surprising that Sharper hasn't garnered a little more interest after having one of the best seasons of his career, but let's remember he's 34 and he's currently recovering from minor knee surgery. That same knee, by the way, plagued him for almost the entirety of the 2009 season. Sharper had to accept a bottom of the barrel low ball offer from the Saints last offseason, and while he's proven to everyone he can still play, he's now a year older. When it's all said in done, I do believe Sharper will be back in a Saints uniform, but it may be for much less than he's hoping for. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Saints Nation: Justin Fargas Visiting Saints

Longtime Raider Justin Fargas is apparently taking in New Orleans today, which confirms my suspicion that the Saints will opt against matching the Eagles' offer for Mike Bell. Fargas was released earlier this offseason by the Raiders, so he wouldn't count against the Saints' ability to sign an unrestricted free agent (made possible by Scott Fujita's departure to Cleveland). Fargas is 30 and went to USC, and plays his entire career with the Raiders. For his career he's averaged 4.1 yards per carry and his best season came in 2007 when he rushed for 1,009 yards as the Raiders' primary back. At this point in his career he's still a capable situational back, but I don't see the Saints locking him down unless he can be had at a discount. I wouldn't expect a contract to come unless he can show the Saints he's physically in good shape and he's open to playing at a bargain.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Saints Nation: Mike Bell to Eagles?

According to, the Eagles have offered running back Mike Bell an offer sheet that he's likely to sign by tomorrow. I'm going to go ahead and spare you the suspense: with Brian Westbrook gone my guess is that it'll be for a decent chunk of change and the Saints will decline to match it. Seven days from now I see Mike Bell as officially becoming an Eagle. Sadly, the Saints tendered Bell at the lowest possible figure so they'll get no compensation for losing him, but they will have seven days to match the offer sheet if they want to keep Bell. I don't see that happening because the Saints' have a massive payroll and a lot of really good young players that they want to lock up. Bell lost a lot of playing time late in the season to Lynell Hamilton, too, so my guess is they'll live with losing him because they trust Hamilton can handle his workload. Perhaps the Saints will also trust Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush more next year in a two back system. Also, consider that of the four backs the Saints relied on last year, three were undrafted (Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell, and Lynell Hamilton). I think the Saints believe they can get a quality running back replacement through the draft or even afterwards without breaking the bank, so I think Mike Bell is a goner. I'm sad because I love the intensity and passion that Bell plays with. He's only been a Saint for a short time but he was a big part of our early season success, and he's an important piece. I hope I'm wrong, but I just think the writing is on the wall. If he does leave, I wish him nothing but the absolute best in Philly.

Saints Nation: Uncapped Season Not Making the Saints Any Favors

When the idea of an uncapped season continued to approach as a very real possibility, I assumed this meant the Saints' offseason would suffer significantly. Being in a small market like New Orleans, I assumed the Saints couldn't hang with the heavy spending Jerry Jones', Dan Snyder's, Bob Kraft's and other rich owners of the world. I figured free agency would become a spending spree that dwarfed previous offseason outputs. Surprisingly, though, there hasn't been any astronomical contracts handed out besides that of Julius Peppers' ridiculous gift from the Bears. Sure, there's your fair share of head scratchers, like the Browns giving Jake Delhomme $7 million next year, but overall free agency has been remarkably quiet. Owners are taking advantage of this financial freedom to cut back on spending. Given the current state of the economy, this makes sense. The contract scale for unproven rookies are getting beyond exorbitant these days, in fact they're obscene.

So while the Saints haven't been hampered nearly as much as I could have predicted by the wide open spending market, the final eight rule that was implemented in this uncapped year has handicapped them severely. The rule is, simply put, that the Saints cannot sign an unrestricted free agent unless they lose one. They lost Scott Fujita to the Browns earlier this month, so that means Mickey Loomis (pictured) has the luxury of signing one whooping unrestricted free agent. Granted this doesn't include players with recently terminated contracts (Tomlinson and Delhomme, for example), but most of those guys are less desirable in general because obviously they weren't worth keeping around for their previous teams. The thing is, those rejected players are MORE desirable to the Saints because they don't count against their ability to sign free agents. Sure the Saints aren't interested in a major overhaul anyway, but it really makes it tougher on them to replace lost starters in Fujita and Charles Grant. Should they lose Darren Sharper, that would give them another opportunity to sign a new player, but it also leaves them with another glaring hole on defense. So get used to this long and uneventful offseason and hope the Saints can retain as many of their pieces as possible, because replacing them will be harder than ever.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Saints Nation: Interview With Saints Tight End Billy Miller

Saints' Tight End Billy Miller was kind enough to answer some questions for Saints Nation. Check out my Q&A with him below. Enjoy!

Saints Nation: Billy thank you for doing this- first off, tell me how your recovery is coming.

Billy Miller: Very well. I have the benefit of owning my own training facility with my own physical therapist in house so I am able to get round the clock physical therapy. Rehab is going great. I'm about a month out from being 100%
SN: You're currently an unrestricted free agent. Have you talked to the Saints about coming back? Tell me a little bit about your plans for the offseason and what you're hoping for. Please tell me you're not going to play for someone else.

BM: I have spoken to the Saints briefly and I think as of right now, they have bigger areas to address. For example Darren Sharper. I'm sure once the dust settles they will have a better idea if they want to bring me back. Until then, I'm training as if I'm getting ready to defend the World Championship. As far as me playing for someone else, I love the Saints and the city of New Orleans, and would love the opportunity to play with all my guys once again.

SN: Tell me about your role with the Saints after the injury. The team kept you around which a lot of times doesn't happen. Most guys go home to rehab and are removed from the team. That speaks to how much they valued your leadership. What was your role once you couldn't play? Was it an easy transition or difficult?

BM:  I turned into the best looking cheerleader and best dressed assistant coach. Last year was the greatest and hardest season of football for me. Winning a World Championship was a dream come true. Not being able to contribute was not!

SN: How special was the SuperBowl victory for you? Can you talk about the win, the parade, the whole experience?

BM: I've been playing football since I was 7 and to win a Super Bowl is why we all play the game! To watch some of my best friends go at and take a championship as the under dog and represent a city so well, was great to be a part of. The party afterward was unexplainable. The Saints parade was the single most unbelievable thing I've ever been apart of. To see that many people show us love was awesome!

SN: I know the last thing you want to think about is life after the NFL, but do you have any plans?

BM: Yes, as I mentioned before I own a sports training facility called Elite Athletics soon to be called Elite Performance Factory. With this I'm able to give back to kids and young men & women to help them achieve the dreams that I have been blessed to accomplish! I also get to see alot of my teamates who work out there and alot of the players I play against, here in the offseason because we all work out here in the off season.

SN: I know you and your wife started a geaux sports jewelry line. Can you tell us more about that, and any other projects you're involved in?

BM: Geaux (Go) Sports Jewelry was a dream that my wife had. It was an opportunity for her to step out and achieve her own personal goals and I was just blessed with the opportunity to help support her dream. The jewelry line looks great, I'm very proud of her, and thank you all to who've suppported her. And those of you who haven't, what are you waiting for? Our next project with Geaux Sports Jewelry is providing schools with an opportunity to make a custom school logo, design, or anything they want, into a beautiful piece of jewelry and use it for fund raising. We both feel that this is a great opportunity to keep sports and the arts available in our schools today by helping them make a lot of money for it! We are also doing a Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer, Gold Ribbon Children's Cancer, and Camoflauge Army pendants, and giving back 20% of sales of each to Susan G Komen, Children's Cancer, and the USO to support our troops! All coming soon.

SN: Anything else you want to share with Saints fans? Let them know about?

BM: Yes. I would like to thank the city of New Orleans and all Saints fans for embracing me as a Saint. Although I fully believe that I will have an opportunity to play again in black & gold, but as we know this is a business. And sometimes even the Saints can make bad decisions! Just Kidding. These last 4 years have changed my life in more ways than one. It has taught me to never judge a book by it's cover and that faith can bring people back from the unthinkable! I hope to see you guys soon!

Many thanks to Billy for taking the time, he's a true class act and we appreciate it greatly.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Saints Nation: Long Snapper Jason Kyle Back on Board

The Saints have re-signed their long snapper Jason Kyle to a one year contract, so he'll be back in black and gold next season. Kyle was very solid and made no major mistakes in his first season as a Saint. He's widely viewed as one of the better long snappers out there. Welcome back to Jason!

I have to say, the whole Kevin Houser ordeal is still, to this day, very odd to me. The fact that he was let go after such a long tenure and the off the field facts/rumors that surfaced after his release were all very surprising. That all said, Kyle has come in and made a very seamless and quiet transition. He's gone about his job effectively, and thanks to him I haven't missed Kevin Houser at all.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Saints Nation: More Jake Delhomme?

Just when you thought you had had enough of Jake Delhomme (pictured), it looks like we could be getting more. Delhomme is scheduled to come visit with the Saints according to He'll be in New Orleans this weekend to visit with team officials. I hate to say it, but I saw this one coming from a mile away. With Brunell inching closer to 40, I figured the Saints would want a veteran backup they can trust. It should be interesting to see how this one plays out. Because he's been cut, he wouldn't cut against the Saints' ability to sign a free agent (made possible by Scott Fujita's departure). There's no chance at this point in his career that Delhomme will get an offer to start anywhere, so why not come back to a town he knows very well that's close to home? Oh, and the Saints represent a good chance for him to get a SuperBowl ring, too. It's a remarkably good fit for all sides involved and I really do believe a deal will happen. Can't say I love it, either, because his history with the Panthers post New Orleans has really soured me on the guy. All things considered, though, if Delhomme is healthy from his injuries I believe he represents an upgrade over Brunell as a #2 quarterback.

In other news, word around town is also that the Saints are hosting New Orleans native and former St. Louis Ram James Hall, and a deal between the two sides could be imminent. Hall would likely be first in line to replace Charles Grant as a starter on the defensive line. While his signing wouldn't leave me enamored, I can't imagine Hall would represent much of a drop off from Grant.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Saints Nation: Leigh Torrence Re-Signed

Special teams standout and reserve cornerback Leigh Torrence is back in black and gold for another season. He's signed a one year deal and will compete for a roster spot. Torrence injured his shoulder during the regular season and was placed on injured reserve, therefore unable to play in the playoffs. He's expected to be fully recovered and at full speed in time for the beginning of mini-camps. Welcome back Leigh!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Saints Nation: Saints to Host Slew of Free Agents this Week

On tap for the Saints this week: hosting former Ram defensive ends Leonard Little & James Hall, as well as defensive tackles Jamal Williams & Maake Kemoeatu (pictured).

Hall and Little are both unrestricted free agents, so the Saints could sign one of the two but that would count as their lone signing option, created by the loss of linebacker Scott Fujita. Williams and Kemoeatu, however, were both released so neither player would count against the Saints' right to sign an unrestricted free agent. These uncapped season free agency rules are lame and indeed put the Saints at a severe disadvantage. I guess that's the point.

Am I the only one that's a little weary of Little and Hall? They're both old, and they both played for the woeful Rams. How are players on that squad going to improve the Saints? I realize Charles Grant was vastly overpaid and under performing, but can we really expect an upgrade in performance from these guys? That's not to say Little and Hall don't have some ability left, but at this point in their careers they are nothing more than situational role players. A healthy Bobby McCray, which we didn't have the luxury of last season, is just as good in my opinion. Keep in mind Leonard Little doesn't fit the mold of character Sean Payton typically targets. Leonard Little killed someone drinking and driving, and he was also pulled over for drinking and driving AFTER that incident.

Here's a take from a very knowledgeable Rams source and friend, thanks to Pistachio: 

"With the Rams out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new rebuilding approach, it’s no surprise they are willing to let these two aging veterans go. But that doesn’t mean they're no longer productive; they still accounted for 11 of the Rams’ 25 sacks last year on a defensive line that had very little help. Hall in particular could be a great pickup for the Saints. With his ability to play inside and outside, combined with his strong locker room presence, the Saints could really benefit from both his versatility and experience. Little, on the other hand, has been slowed down by nagging injuries, and he was originally considering retirement this off season. But when he's healthy, he’s still a solid situational pass rusher that could be effective in a limited role. Hall has never played on a winning team and Little hasn’t tasted team success since the Greatest Show on Turf days nearly a decade ago, so both veterans should be extra-motivated for one more shot at a ring. "

As for Kemoeatu and Williams, I'm a little more intrigued by these prospects. Both players are coming off major injuries: triceps tear for Williams (Charles Grant's injury of choice), and Achilles tear for Kemoeatu (Cam Cleeland's injury of choice). While both are aged grizzly veterans, they were both very dominant forces in the trenches in their prime. Both are considered premiere run stoppers, and I think they would be great pickups if they can be had at a decent price. There's no given they'll bounce back from not playing in 2009 to performing at a high level once again, but a lot times free agency is a gamble. Darren Sharper, too, was a major gamble a year ago. He was a worthwhile pickup based on the low risk of his salary, and it paid off bigtime. Similarly, if the Saints aren't breaking the bank for a player formerly known as one of the best run stoppers out there (Williams and Kemoeatu both fit that bill), then it's worth taking a shot.

Here's a take from a knowledgeable Chargers source and friend on Williams, thanks to Oddjob:

"He’s injury prone and is getting old. He is really big and takes up space in a 3-4, but I’m not confident he is going to recover well from this last injury. His only job was to try and occupy the middle of the line to open up gaps for the linebackers and he did terribly at that last year and the start of this year. That used to be his forte. He also didn’t have a lot of push last year when he was healthy which I attributed to declining skills. He’s a big name that some moron ESPN analyst will say is a great signing but I don’t think he’s got much left, especially for the money I think he wants. He fit the Chargers scheme perfectly when healthy and they are cutting him in an uncapped year (so it wasn’t the salary that was the big issue) so that tells you what they think of his declining skills and recovery from injury. He is no longer an every down lineman, nor was he in the 2008 season. He’d be fine as a role player, a great pickup if he doesn’t have to play very much. I have a feeling someone will offer him a starting job and he’ll be tempted to take it though. I read Buffalo and the Jets were interested in him for their 3-4s."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Saints Nation: Scott Fujita Says His Goodbyes, Heads to Cleveland

Hearing the news that Scott Fujita had signed a 3 year $14 million contract with the Cleveland Browns came as a pretty big surprise. I fully expected him to end up back in New Orleans. Fujita has been a steady starter at linebacker in the Sean Payton regime since 2006, and his play was consistent enough last year that I assumed the team would want him back. Now the Saints have a glaring hole at linebacker with his departure, and more importantly they have a glaring hole in the leadership department. Fujita was known during his time with the Saints as one of the main leaders. When you hear about the Sean Payton regime targeting character players, no one fit that description better than Scott Fujita who had ultimate respect from his teammates, coaching staff and fans. That's not to say that the Saints were willing to shell at that kind of dough for him, though. Let's be honest, the Browns are paying him a significant amount of money ($8 million guaranteed) and clearly the Saints didn't want to get in a bidding war. quoted Fujita as saying, "in planning for their future, the Saints just didn't value that partnership the same way;" as he talked about how much the team and city meant to him. My guess from that quote, reading between the lines, is that the Saints weren't interested in bringing him back at all. Perhaps down the line at a discount, but not at the price the Browns were willing to have him.

One interesting point of note was that Fujita was seen blitzing more than ever under the 2009 Saints' defense, orchestrated by new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. While Fujita is a well rounded versatile player that's capable of doing most things fairly well, he doesn't exactly strike fear coming off the edge as a legitimate passing rushing threat. My guess is the Saints want to get younger at linebacker with Vilma and Shanle holding down starting spots of their own, and they want to find a young pass rushing linebacker that can be more of a threat blitzing in passing situations. We'll have to see how that pans out in the draft. With Grant and Fujita both gone, the Saints have some work to do to upgrade their defense. The only good news that comes from this departure is that the Saints are now able to sign a free agent, though it's a small consolation.

Scott - thanks for the memories. You were a great Saint and you're a terrific guy. I'll really miss seeing you play in a Saints uniform, but I'll continue to root for you on Sundays (as long as you're not playing the Saints!).

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Saints Nation's Top 15 Plays of the 2009 Season: #1 Robert Meachem's Strip @ Redskins

This is my #1 Saints play of the 2009 season. Enjoy! While it didn't come in the SuperBowl, I think it embodied the type of season the Saints had. No matter how bleak or how bad things sometimes looked, the Saints always found a way to win. I think this play underlined the path of destiny the Saints were on better than any other. What a wild ride this season was. I hope you enjoyed my top 15 plays!


1. Robert Meachem's strip @ Redskins
2. Tracy Porter's SuperBowl clinching interception for a touchdown
3. Garrett Hartley's game winning overtime field goal vs. Vikings
4. Tracy Porter's interception vs. Vikings
5. Deuce McAllister's return
6. Reggie Bush's touchdown run vs. Cardinals
7. Darren Sharper's inteception for a touchdown return vs. Jets
8. Reggie Bush's touchdown leap @ Dolphins
9. Jonathan Vilma's game winning tackle @ Falcons
10. Lance Moore's SuperBowl 2 point conversion catch
11. Mike McKenzie's interception of Tom Brady
12. Reggie Bush's Punt Return for a touchdown vs. Cardinals
13. Courtney Roby's Kickoff Return for a touchdown @ Rams
14. Bobby McCray's Hit on Kurt Warner
15. Brees' touchdown pass to Devery Henderson vs. Patriots

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saints Nation's Top 15 Plays of the 2009 Season: #2 Tracy Porter's Super Bowl Sealing Interception vs. Colts

This play needs no introduction. This is my #2 Saints' play of the year. Does it get much better than this?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Saints Nation: Team's Free Agency Needs

It's weird to think about the Saints needing to fix anything just weeks after winning the SuperBowl, but the reality is that free agency is now upon us and the Saints have an opportunity to make their team better or worse. The offseason will serve largely as focus on keeping the parts that helped the Saints make their run through the playoffs. Because the Saints ended in the top 8, there's also several restrictions on what the team can do in free agency. The team cannot sign an unrestricted free agent unless they lose one, so it encourages them to hold on to the ones they have. Cutting Charles Grant, by the way, does not count as losing a free agent. In the coming weeks the Saints will need to decide whether or not to re-sign free safety Darren Sharper and linebacker Scott Fujita. We should also expect the team to finalize a long term deal with Jahri Evans soon. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported today that the Saints are on the verge of making Evans the highest paid guard in NFL history.

As far as what the Saints need to upgrade this offseason, first it depends on what they lose. They've tendered tackles Zach Strief, Jammal Brown and Jermon Bushrod - but it's entirely possible they'll need to add depth at the tackle position should they lose any of those players. Should they lose Darren Sharper and/or Scott Fujita, safety and linebacker immediately become a position of need. Rumblings are that Malcolm Jenkins may be thrown into the role of free safety should the Saints lose Sharper. Mike Bell and Pierre Thomas aren't locked up for next year yet either, and there's a decent chance someone will make a run at both players. Losing either would result in the need for a back, and there's been rumblings of LaDainian Tomlinson possibly coming to New Orleans.

Assuming all of these players return, though, the top positions of need are on the defensive line. The Saints have parted ways with two of their opening day starters on the front four (Charles Grant and Kendrick Clancy), and while Will Smith and Sedrick Ellis both had solid season, the Saints need to fill the other two starting spots with some quality talent. Expect them to target these areas early in the draft and in free agency as their two major needs. An able run stopper and a capable pass rusher top the Saints' current wish list.

Saints Nation's Top 15 Plays of the 2009 Season: #3 Garrett Hartley's Game Winning Overtime Field Goal vs. Vikings

This is the kick that sent the Saints to the SuperBowl. This play is good for the #3 best of the 2009 Saints season. Enjoy! I still get chills every time I watch this.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Saints Nation: Charles Grant, Jamar Nesbit and Mark Simoneau released

Charles Grant's (pictured) career as a Saint has mercifully come to an end. My prediction that he had played his last game as a Saint earlier this season turned out to be true. Grant received a huge contract (7 years, $63 million) back in 2007 and has never lived up to those gaudy numbers with his performance. Since signing the deal, he's mustered career low outputs and repeated injuries. Grant has been a Saint since 2002, when he was drafted during the Jim Haslett era. Thanks to Charles for his contributions to the Saints.

Grant took the time to post the following on his twitter account today: "too all my fans thank u for you're support all these years i love u" and "no longer a saints too my fans love u". I know he didn't learn that kind of grammar during his Georgia education! His departure is hardly a surprise given his massive cap status and his mediocre production, but it leaves a spot to fill on the defensive line. This further strengthens my belief that the Saints will target a pass rushing defensive threat early in the draft.

Jamar Nesbit and Mark Simoneau, though lower profile, are also long time veteran Saints that the team has decided to let go. They both carried big contracts, so it's not inconceivable that the Saints wouldn't try to bring either player back at lower rates. The chances of Grant coming back, though, seem null. Simoneau spent the last four seasons with the Saints, but was sidelined for the entirety of the last two due to injury. It's not clear whether he'll retire or attempt to make a comeback at 33 years of age. Nesbit was involved in the StarCaps situation, which cost him his starting position. Nesbit relinquished his starting role to Carl Nicks during his 4 game suspension and would never get it back. Nesbit is also 33 and was with the Saints since 2004.

Best of luck to all these players, they were some good ones!

Saints Nation's Top 15 Plays of the 2009 Season: #4 Tracy Porter's Interception vs. Vikings

This play is good for #4 on the top 15 Saints' plays of the 2009 season. Simply put, Tracy Porter doesn't make this interception and the Saints may not make it to the SuperBowl

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Saints Nation's Top 15 Plays of the 2009 Season: #5 Deuce McAllister's Return

So maybe this isn't a true "play", but I'm still giving it my 5th best play of the season. The return of Deuce, emotionally, was one of the top moments in Saints history for me. What great energy and crowd enthusiasm during his introduction. This season just wouldn't have been the same without the brief return of one of the best all time Saints.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Saints Nation: Jahri Evans Offered Contract

There was never much doubt about this happening, but the Saints tendered Evans at the highest possible level yesterday. This means the Saints again will have the right to match any contract offer made to Evans, and an opposing team will have to give up 1st and 3rd round draft choices to get him. The offer is good for $3.168 million. My guess is the Saints will still attempt to agree to terms on a long term deal with Evans before the 2010 season starts.

With this tender, the only remaining restricted free agents who have yet to see an offer are Jeff Charleston, Leigh Torrence and Kyle Eckel.

Saints Nation's Top 15 Plays of the 2009 Season: #6 Reggie Bush's Touchdown Run vs. Cardinals

This is good for #6 best play of the season. One word: SICK!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Saints Nation: Mike Bell tendered

THIS STORY was posted today on with the news that the Saints offered Mike Bell a contract. It's apparently for the lowest possible compensation, which means they have a right to match any contract he signs with someone else but will not receive a draft pick if they lose him. While he's far from guaranteed of joining the Saints for 2010, things are looking better than they were prior to this news.

Saints Nation's Top 15 Plays of the 2009 Season: #7 Darren Sharper's Interception Return for a Touchdown vs. Jets

The # 7 play of the season was Darren Sharper's pick 6 against rookie Mark Sanchez and the Jets. The pick went 99 yards for a touchdown, and gave the Saints a 10 point lead. The Saints would go one to win that game 24-10 on the heels of two defensive touchdowns. Sharper was making plays like this one all season long.