Missing Pieces the New Orleans Saints Could Still Get
The New Orleans Saints enter the dull part of the 2012 offseason with as good a chance to be crowned Super Bowl Champions at the end of the upcoming season as any team in the entire NFL, despite a myriad of distractions and issues they have faced since the end of the 2011 season.
That said, there are still a few pieces the team could potentially add that would only give the team that much better of a chance to make them the initial host-city Super Bowl representative in the game's 46-year history.
Here are a few such names.
OK, so this is a bit of a stretch to say the least. After all, the New Orleans Saints hold Drew Brees' rights due to their placing upon him the exclusive rights franchise tag. And the team is likely to re-sign their franchise quarterback to a long-term deal at some point.
But each of the parties in play have decided to remain stubborn. As such, it's not impossible to think the team could be without Brees for some or all of the 2012 NFL season.
Though the reviews have been mostly glaring through the team's OTAs, Chase Daniel is not the answer at quarterback for a Super Bowl title in the 2012-13 season.
Therefore, the Saints must re-add (if you will) Drew Brees to the team's roster, and overall, plan for the 2012 season. If they do not, the best they could realistically hope for in 2012 is a nice season, somewhere in the range of nine to 10 wins and a likely first-round playoff loss.
Drew Brees gives this team a chance to make history.
Former NYG OT Kareem McKenzie
Though the New Orleans Saints have made things work the last two years with average to below-average right tackle performances, one could make the case it's one of the major factors that has prevented them from returning to the Super Bowl.
The Saints could look to insert two-time Super Bowl champion lineman Kareem McKenzie, formerly of the New York Giants. Even though, he's getting banged up and is no longer seen as a high-quality option at the right tackle spot.
Zach Strief is clearly meant to be a backup offensive tackle, and as of yet, Charles Brown has not shown he's capable of holding down the fort on the right side. McKenzie could effectively bridge the gap either to Brown or to another younger player in the next year or two.
It's also possible the Saints could look at the highly successful veteran Max Starks, who at just 30 years old is three years the junior of McKenzie but is also coming off a torn ACL and is unlikely to be ready in time for training camp.
Either way, if the Saints determine they are not satisfied with the right tackle spot, they have a couple options among veterans who have had great success in the NFL.
Former NE Patriots DE Andre Carter
In 2011, Andre Carter was the best pass-rusher the New England Patriots had before he left the field on December 18 against the Denver Broncos. In Bill Belichick's new 4-3 defense, Carter used both speed and power to create hellacious pressure against opposing quarterbacks.
In 2012, Carter figures to provide someone a much-needed boost to their pass-rush game from either the defensive end spot or from the outside linebacker position. He has done both successfully throughout his career, though, he's had more success as an end in obvious passing situations.
And that's likely exactly how the New Orleans Saints would use the veteran coming off the torn quadriceps injury. Carter would simply bring another option for new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to bring off the edge.
And any knowledgeable fan knows Spagnuolo loves to bring in as many different pass-rushers as possible to create havoc for the opposing passer.
Former NY Jets Safety Jim Leonhard
With the New Orleans Saints transitioning to a more zone-oriented coverage scheme in 2012 and planning to use Malcolm Jenkins in more non-safety position roles, the Saints need a reliable third safety.
Since Jim Leonhard is yet to re-sign with the New York Jets, he's fair game. He is, however, recovering from a torn patella tendon and could miss part(s) of training camp.
But Leonhard is a playmaking safety who excels in deep coverage and then breaking on poorly placed footballs. Hey, that sounds eerily reminiscent to the characteristics shown by former Saints great Darren Sharper who made 2009 his personal assassination on the interception record book.
Leonhard could do something similar if he were 100 percent healthy and if the New Orleans Saints, in fact, play the three-safety defense we are expecting from them.
Cowboys CB Mike Jenkins
Few players who possess the kind of talent that Mike Jenkins does are placed on "the trading block" at such an incredibly young age. Yet, that's the fate of the Cowboys' Mike Jenkins after the team traded up to No. 6 to select LSU CB Morris Claiborne in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft.
USA Today featured a story in which Jerry Jones claimed his team had no intention of trading the frustrated corner.
But we've heard such things from Jones and other NFL personnel men before. Sometimes, teams remain true to their word. Other times, they don't.
Needless to say, the New Orleans Saints could use a solid second corner, which would allow them to keep Patrick Robinson at the nickel corner spot, where he's best.
And the best part of a potential deal for Jenkins is that he's still very young and on his rookie contract. If he doesn't work out, the Saints could move on without him in 2013. If he does, they have a lot of freedom with which to work in determining his fate.
As with any of these deals, it would obviously make the team deeper and likely better for the upcoming NFL season.