NFL Offseason 2012: New Orleans Saints Are Already Being Purged

Zayne GranthamContributor IIIJanuary 15, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 14:  Darren Sproles #43 and the New Orleans Saints huddle on the field against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won the game 36-32.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints' offseason has been going on for less than 24 hours and there are already reports of multiple Saints leaving New Orleans.

Adam Schefter of ESPN has reported that Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is very likely to leave town and join Jeff Fisher in St. Louis. This is not a huge surprise, and I honestly am excited for the change.

Williams' defense led the Saints to a Super Bowl victory in 2009, but it has simply not been the same since. The Saints could not get the same amount of turnovers in 2010 or 2011, and the unit collapsed when the Saints needed them the most.

If Williams does indeed leave, then there are plenty of candidates for the Saints to go after. In my opinion, I would love to see Mike Nolan, Steve Spagnuolo or Jack Del Rio take over the Saints' defense.

These three guys have a lot of experience in coaching and can maximize the Saints' defensive potential. Spagnuolo is a great overall coordinator, but he would likely get the most out of the defensive line, which is an area that the Saints need improvement.

Del Rio and Nolan would likely make the Saints' linebacking corps even better, and the secondary would improve because of that. Although Williams is likely to leave, it is not a horrible situation for the Saints. They will find a replacement, and hopefully the guy that comes in can make the talented Saints' roster one that is consistent week in and week out.

The bigger situation for the Saints is their current unrestricted free agents. Everyone knows that Drew Brees, Carl Nicks and Marques Colston are the Saints' "big three" free agents this offseason, and they will be the primary focus of Mickey Loomis and the front office.

Brees will be resigned, one way or another, so let's not worry about that. However, Colston and Nicks will be much more difficult to resign. In fact, ESPN's Schefter has also reported that Nicks is likely to leave New Orleans in the offseason.

I believe that it will be difficult, but the Saints could resign Nicks. He wants, and deserves, big money from the Saint, and I think it will come down to if the team is able to resign Nicks or not. The same goes for Colston. If the Saints can find the money, then he will be in the black and gold again next year.

In my opinion, I believe that Colston is more valuable to the Saints than Nicks is. Don't get me wrong, Nicks is probably the best left guard in the NFL, but the Saints have given up All-Pro offensive lineman before, and been just fine after.

They replaced All-Pro let tackle Jammal Brown with little-known backup Jermon Bushrod and he is now a Pro-Bowler. In this past offseason, the Saints replaced Pro-Bowl right tackle Jon Stinchcomb with long time second-string player Zach Strief.

The point is that I believe the Saints would be able to replace Nicks much easier than they could Colston. Colston is a huge part of the Saints offense and it is difficult to find receivers like him.

The Saints also have key players like Tracy Porter and Robert Meachem hitting the market this offseason. It looks as if Williams is gone, and we already know wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson is going to be the head coach at Tulane.

Offensive line coach Aaron Kromer is also being looked at by other teams across the country and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael has built up some hype around his name.

Loomis and the Saints' front office will have a lot of work to do this spring, especially with other teams gunning for the Saints' talented players and coaches.