This will be the first year since 2007 that the man in the middle of the Saints defense will not be named Jonathan Vilma, but instead be replaced by a younger, better Curtis Lofton from the hated Atlanta Falcons.
Now, my colleague here at Bleacher Report went in-depth and broke down this comparison a little more here. I'm going to condense it and give you an overall look at why this move is an upgrade.
The biggest reason that this move is amazing is the age factor. Lofton is four years younger than Vilma and just entering the prime of his career. The last linebacker that the Saints had like that was Mark Fields over a decade ago.
Along with being younger, Lofton also has better overall skills than Vilma and are only getting better. One of the things that Lofton excels in over Vilma is his pure tackling ability. He hits and wraps up, instead of going for the big hit and probably whiffing on a high percentage on those.
Scheme-wise he is also a better fit because of the way Steve Spagnuolo uses his middle linebacker. He's MLBs are usually very good in coverage because of his use of the defensive line. His line gets so much pressure on its own, it allows the 'backers to flow to the ball easier or in the flat covering a back out of the backfield.
There's just one area that Lofton lacks in comparison to Mr. Vilma, and that's the locker room.
Vilma might be gone physically for a year from the Saints facilities, but his spirit and leadership is still felt with veterans who have gone to battle with him. You can't replace that in a few mini-camps and a training camp.
That will come as Lofton gels with his new teammates and finds his groove in the middle because Spagnuolo is expecting to not just be a great athlete in the middle, but a great leader as well. And as soon as that gets ironed out, the upgrade from Lofton to Vilma would look like someone buying stock in Apple way back in the day. Genius!