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."